With Friday's unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, the Dublin police department encourages you to take extra precaution as you are out the next few weeks scurrying from store to store.

With Friday's unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, the Dublin police department encourages you to take extra precaution as you are out the next few weeks scurrying from store to store.

We urge you to take extra precautions to protect yourselves from becoming victims of crime.

Criminals are Christmas shopping this time of year, too. They're just more likely to get their presents from the front seat of your car or through the garage door you left open.

As we are on patrol, we occasionally leave notes on the windshield of cars as a friendly reminder to keep expensive items out of sight, if we see something that might attract a thief. We also call homeowners who have left garage doors open.

High on thieves' lists are GPS and digital radio receivers -- things that can be seen and quickly taken from a vehicle. The best advice: Take it or hide it.

To help keep Dublin a safe place to live and work, police encourage you to do the following:

Remove valuables from your vehicles.

Keep your garage doors closed and secured.

Call the police immediately if you witness a crime or something suspicious.

Stay alert to your surroundings and to other shoppers.

Shop with a friend, if possible.

Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Pay for purchases with a check or credit card.

Be extra careful with purses and wallets.

Carry your purse tightly under your arm and don't leave it unattended.

Don't display gifts where they can be seen through a window.

Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you go out, even for a few minutes.

If you are planning on being out of town during the holidays, please consider these tips to return to a safe and secure home.

Enlist a neighbor to watch your home and pick up newspapers and mail.

Call police at 410-4800 or sign up online for House Watch at http://www.dublin.oh.us/police/services/housewatch.php to have patrol officers periodically check in on your house.

Install an automatic timer for lights, radio and/or TV to make it appear as if someone is home.

Arrange for snow removal from your driveway and sidewalks.

Some of these tips might seem like common sense advice, but being burglarized at this time of year happens all too often. Keep these tips in mind, plan ahead and stay alert. If you follow this simple plan, your holidays will remain bright.

Mike Epperson is Dublin police chief.

Mike

Epperson