MADERA COUNTY — The biggest shopping day of the year is fast approaching, so Sheriff John Anderson is asking citizens, are you doing your part to protect your family and your property?
It’s not even Thanksgiving and already Madera County has encountered a number of burglaries and car break-ins.
With that in mind, Sheriff Anderson is releasing his annual list of safety tips, titled, “If I were a thief, you would now be a victim,” and urges all citizens to take the Safety Check Test that he says should be followed year-round.
Protecting your vehicles and valuables:
* Don’t leave your car unlocked even if you will be gone for just a few minutes.
* Don’t leave purchased items in plain view. Instead, store them in the trunk of your vehicle.
* Don’t leave your vehicle unlocked when gassing up. It takes a second for thief to jump in while focused on the pump.
* Don’t leave your car unlocked while driving. Thieves can easily open a door while you wait at a stoplight.
Protecting you and your valuables when shopping:
* Don’t place your purse in your shopping cart when shopping for gifts or groceries. Turn your back even for just a second, and your bag may be gone.
* Don’t leave your purse in your cart when placing items in your car.
* Don’t place your personal effects on the hook of a restroom stall or on the floor where thieves can reach them. Instead, keep them close to you at all times.
* Always park in a well-lighted area.
* Always try to shop with a buddy.
* Always prepare your children about what to do in the event you become separated.
* Always have your keys in your hand when returning to your vehicle.
Protecting you from online scams:
* Beware of high-tech scams such as phony e-card greetings. If you receive an e-mail card and are advised to download the latest software to view it, don’t do it. You may be giving someone complete access to your computer.
* Phony lottery or sweepstakes notices that state you’re a winner. You get an e-mail or phone message suggesting you visit a website or return the call to collect your prize. Don’t respond. Delete the message.
* Phony sales found online. Be it eBay, Craigslist or any other venue, do your homework and find out if the company hosting these ads is legitimate.
Protecting your home
* Create open lines of communications with neighbors and businesses within your immediate area.
* Take outgoing mail and packages to the post office or courier. When away on Holiday, request the post office hold your mail delivery; and ask your neighbors to retrieve your packages.
* Consider installing motion-detector lights around the outside of your home, and electric timers for your lights inside your home.
* When at home or away, always draw your shades to keep outsiders from peering in.
* Keep windows and doors locked at all times. If you need to leave an extra key, don’t leave it in a flower pot or under the mat — leave it with a neighbor you know who you trust and can reach.
* Secure all doors with quality deadbolts and latches to all windows and sliding glass doors.
* Vehicles stored in the garage should be locked at all times. Don’t leave your keys in your vehicle.
* Let neighbors know if and when you may be gone. If a strange vehicle is seen in your driveway, neighbors will know to call 911. You can also ask the Madera County Sheriff’s Citizens on Patrol Unit to patrol your street when you’re away.
For more information about the Madera County Sheriff’s Citizens On Patrol Unit House Check Service, call 559-675-7770 or 559-642-3201. The service is free to all Madera County residents.