The Sheriff Speaks: Holiday Tips

Sheriff Kevin Sproul

Friday, October 29th, 2021

The Holiday Season is here.  It is the season for joy, gentleness, and generosity.  Unfortunately, it may also be the season for assault, burglary, and theft.  I don’t know why the times that tend to bring out the best in most of us, seem to bring out the worst in some others.

The Sheriff’s Office pledges increased vigilance during this season to protect the citizens of Dougherty County.  I would also like to share with you some tips that can help keep you and your family safe during the holidays:

  • Be alert.  Remain aware of what is going on around you.  If you notice people acting in a suspicious manner, avoid them.  Watch for suspicious activity in your neighborhood, around ATM machines, and in store parking lots.  These are prime areas for burglars and thieves to hang out and pick their targets.  Make sure to report suspicious people to store managers or to law enforcement.  Also, using credit and debit cards are safer than carrying cash, but try not to let anyone see you enter your PIN and never carry anything with your PIN written on it.

  • Plan ahead.  If you are going shopping, clear out the trunk of your car so that you may put your purchases out of sight.  If you don’t have a trunk, take a blanket to throw over your purchases so that they are out of view.  While shopping, make frequent stops at your car to check on it, and drop off the packages you have so you don’t have too much to carry.  Remember, an armload of packages makes you a vulnerable target for a would-be thief.  Also, shopping ‘till you drop may not be wise.  Too many packages in your car may be like putting all your eggs in one basket.  Make frequent trips home to secure your purchases.  At home, don’t let the desire to show your holiday spirit compromise your safety – make sure the gifts under your Christmas tree are not visible through a window.

  • Use what you’ve got.  Take advantage of your opportunities to stay safe.  Lock your vehicle doors while you are inside it, and keep your windows rolled up.  Ask for a store security escort to your car if it is dark outside or you see unsavory types in the parking lot.  Keep your cell-phone with you and charged.  If you own a whistle, carry that too.  If your house has an alarm system, make sure to activate it while you are away and at night. Double-check your security lights and cameras to make sure they’re working properly. If you carry a purse, keep it with you (not in the shopping cart). Most importantly, remain aware of your surroundings – don’t get so caught up in what you’re doing that you fail to notice warning signs of danger.

Every year we see families whose holidays have been ruined by crime.  My wish for this holiday season is for each of you to avoid that fate and escape becoming an unfortunate statistic.

I am very thankful to have made it through another year, considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Our community has dealt with so much, yet continues to endure. I appreciate the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office and other first responders who have put themselves in harm’s way to serve this community and I am incredibly grateful for the support that this community gives to law enforcement.

May God bless each of you and your family during this holiday season.