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Police Urge Shoppers to Safeguard Holiday Gifts

Newport Beach police say while you're out shopping for Christmas gifts, be sure to lock your car doors and don't leave anything of value in the car.

Holiday shopping will be in full swing this week and Newport Beach police want to make sure thieves don't get their hands on any gifts.

This holiday season the Newport Beach Police Department is embarking on the second year of its Operation Safe Holidays. The awareness campaign is geared toward decreasing crimes of opportunity. Police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe says last year's crime statistics show an 11 percent decrease in burglary/theft from vehicles during the time period of Nov. 20 – Dec. 31, when compared to 2010. 

"We believe our efforts to partner with the community to reduce crimes of opportunity were successful," Lowe told Patch.

According to police in 2011, 90 percent of total crimes reported in Newport Beach were property crimes (burglaries, petty thefts and grand thefts). Thirty-seven percent of those crimes involved vehicles, and 54 percent of vehicle crimes involved unlocked cars.

What Police Are Doing:

  • Informational Message Boards: Message boards have been strategically placed in high visibility areas to raise awareness about locking vehicles and safeguarding valuables. The message reads. "Happy Holidays, Lock Your Vehicle."
  • Door Hangers: About 3,500 hangers will be delivered to residential neighborhoods and businesses at the beginning of December, advising residents of the importance to lock their homes, vehicles and valuables to deter thefts.
  • Neighborhood/Business Watch: A partnership with the community in which individuals report suspicious persons and activities to the Police Department by calling 949-644-3717.
  • Curfew Enforcement: The curfew ordinance will be enforced for the safety of the city's youth and to discourage improper behavior.
  • Extra Patrols: Police officers have stepped up their high visibility patrol efforts in both residential and business districts in order to reduce the number of thefts.
  • DUI Patrols: Extra DUI Patrols will be conducted throughout the holiday season in an effort to make the roadways safer for everyone.

How Residents Can Help:

  • Park your vehicle as close to the store’s entrance as possible. When you know you will be returning to your car after dark, park directly under a light fixture, but away from large bushes.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle, hide them prior to arriving at your destination, and always lock your vehicle. 
  • While shopping don’t advertise your valuable purchases. Place packages in the trunk of your car before your arms become full. In the event you are being watched, move your car to another spot. Thieves watch for shoppers placing valuables in unattended cars. 
  • Use caution when approaching your vehicle. Stay alert and have your keys ready in your hand. Watch out for anyone hiding in or loitering near your car. 
  • If you don’t feel comfortable walking to your vehicle alone, ask a store employee for assistance. 
  • After you have completed a purchase, make sure you place your credit card and ID back in your wallet and your wallet in your purse or pocket.
  • At home: Don’t advertise your new gifts. Breakdown all containers and boxes before throwing them away. A box or container advertising your new TV, computer, or other electronic product, left out by the trash, may attract a burglar to your home.
  • If you observe suspicious activity while shopping or unloading your purchases, call the police department at 949-644-3717.
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