By Kristin Bednarski
Local police officers in Clermont County are urging residents to be safe this holiday season.
Amelia Police Chief David Friend presented several safety tips and concerns during the Nov. 27 village council meeting.
Friend said theft and shoplifting become more prominent during the holiday season.
He said car theft, especially in the parking lots of malls and other shopping centers, is always a concern.
“A lot of people take it for granted,” Friend said. “They think they will only be in the store for a couple of minutes.”
Friend said residents should make sure to lock their car doors and to not leave valuables, including gift purchases, out in the open on the seats.
Friend said residents should also be aware of what they leave outside their home, including packages and mail in the mailbox that could possibly contain money.
Friend said they have already had stores in the area reporting shoplifting this season.
“Shoplifting is a big issue during Christmas,” Friend said.
Union Township Sergeant Tony Rees said they also see a rise in shoplifting in Union Township during the holiday season.
“Usually people are stealing because they can’t afford the presents,” Rees said.
He said in addition to shoplifting at stores, people also snatch purses this time of year.
“Shoplifting and purse snatching go hand-in-hand,” Rees said.
Rees said they have already had reports from women who have had their purses stolen. He said thieves will snatch purses from people’s arms or from shopping carts in stores or parking lots.
“When you’re walking down the traffic lanes of the parking lot always carry your purse on your inside shoulder,” Rees said. “When you get to the car, get your purse and the items you bought into the car as quick as you can.”
Rees also encouraged people to also park in well-lit areas of parking lots at night and to make sure they lock their doors.
Rees said the closer Christmas gets, the more problems they have with purse snatching and theft in parking lots.
“Thieves know it is a busy, congested parking lot,” Rees said.
He said thieves also like the busy time of year because it is more difficult for police to get there quickly with holiday traffic.
“More than anything, be aware of your surroundings,” Rees said about avoiding theft.
In addition, Rees said, burglary at residences in the township also increases during the holiday season, especially with many people traveling.
“If you’re going out of town, keep a car in the driveway, not out in the street,” Rees said. “Avoid routine, when someone sees the same light on it’s a good indication no one is home. Keep blinds closed, thieves will take what they can see.”
Rees said residents should also be mindful of who they allow in the house.
“This is the time people need money,” Rees said.
Rees said residents who are traveling during the holidays are encouraged to notify the Union Township Police Department.
“We encourage people to utilize our vacation checklist,” Rees said. “We’ll ask departure and arrival dates, we’ll check their house periodically while they are gone.”
He said the police department can be reached at (513) 753-1230 .
Many other police departments in Clermont County also offer vacation watch services including the Bethel Police Department, New Richmond Police Department, Milford Police Department, Pierce Township Police Department and more.
Additional holiday safety tips are available through the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office at www.clermontsheriff.org/holiday-shopping.aspx.