The Crime Matters column with Supt Paula Booth

Make sure your valuables are not on view in your car. Also park in an area that is monitored by CCTV.
Make sure your valuables are not on view in your car. Also park in an area that is monitored by CCTV.

Whether you are high street shopping or buying presents online, partying the night away or having a cosy evening in, it’s important that you do all you can to enjoy a safe and secure festive period.

We all know what it’s like in the mad rush towards Christmas. Those stressful last-minute gifts to buy, going to a “work’s do” in a hideous Crimbo jumper (you know who you are) or meeting up with friends in town for drinks and a dance.

With all of these crazy Christmas goings-on, it’s very easy to understand how people let their guards down when it comes to personal and home safety. Not to mention out-of-character behaviour when one-too-many boozy beverages have been sunk in the name of Santa.

While not wanting to be a policing party pooper, I feel it is my duty to give you some tops tips to make it a Christmas to remember rather than one to forget.

Shopping safety

It’s a fairly obvious one, but if you’ve been trailing around the shops and you’ve temporarily popped back to your car to off-load some bags, please, please, please do not leave the items on view. Always remember that criminals are tempted by easy pickings. It’s also best to park in a proper car park that is monitored by CCTV.

You may save yourself a few quid by leaving your motor on a nearby side-street, but the risks to your vehicle and the goods inside are greatly magnified.

When it comes to online shopping, I cannot stress enough how careful you need to be. There are thousands of scammers all wanting to rip you off either directly by selling bogus goods or services, or indirectly through obtaining your personal details including dates of birth as well as bank account numbers and passwords.

If there is one single security tip that will stand you in good stead when purchasing online, it is this: Before you type your card details into a website, ensure that the site is secure – look out for a small padlock symbol in the address bar – or elsewhere in your browser window – and a web address beginning with “https://” (the “s” stands for “secure”).

Party safety

If you’re heading out for Christmas or New Year’s Eve celebrations in pubs and clubs, make sure to stay with your friends and look out for each other. Stick to your plans, have travel arranged and be careful how much you drink – enjoy yourself by all means, but don’t drink yourself into oblivion. Whatever you do, don’t leave drinks unattended and stay away from drugs, new psychoactive substances or other controlled substances.

Drink-driving – don’t risk it, have none for the road. Also, if you are partying hard, you need to be aware that you will still be over the limit the next morning.

Home safety

Please do everything you can to keep Christmas presents and other valuables hidden from view at home. It may be wonderful for the family to see all those exciting presents wrapped up under the tree, but a passing opportunistic thief will think all their Christmases have come at once if they can get their hands on them.

A few simple steps such as leaving a light on when you are out, keeping presents and valuables out of sight, opening and closing curtains at the appropriate times of day and not advertising on social media that you are away from home, will go a long way to keep criminals at bay. I really hope this advice will be useful in keeping you and yours safe.

I know it’s a little premature, but on behalf of North Yorkshire Police I wish you all a very happy and a very safe Christmas and New Year.