By GAYLA CAWLEY
Police are urging people to be cautious and vigilant this holiday season, telling them to call their local police departments if anything appears suspicious.
“We’re telling everybody to do what they normally do,” Peabody Police Captain Dennis Bonaiuto said. “Be vigilant if you see anything suspicious.”
Bonaiuto said his department would much rather respond to a call and find that it was unfounded than to have someone not call about something that turns out to be a crime.
“Don’t be afraid to bother us,” Bonaiuto said.
Bonaiuto said people should exercise caution and patience on the roadways as there will be more traffic than usual with many people traveling. With holiday celebrations, safety should be a priority. He said those celebrating with alcohol should do so responsibly and avoid driving.
“If you’ve had too much to drink, we greatly encourage the use of designated drivers,” Bonaiuto said.
Bonaiuto also said to avoid texting while operating a motor vehicle.
With the holidays comes presents and Bonaiuto said people should be aware of what day and time packages are being delivered from companies such as UPS and FedEx, so as to not tempt others to take packages that are lying around.
Bonaiuto said the city has partnered with Northshore Mall and other shopping areas in Peabody over the past few years, which has resulted in an increased security presence. He said that additional presence has resulted in a decrease in criminal activity over the past few years.
Lynn Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said the same tips are given every year for the holidays.
“Don’t leave unwrapped gifts visible through your window,” Donnelly said. “Keep them out of sight.”
People should break down all of the gift packaging before disposal, so as to not alert others there are new computers or televisions in the house. Inventory should also be taken of all new items bought for the holidays, so it will be apparent if something is missing, Donnelly said.
Avoid posting pictures of new gifts on social media and hold off on posting photos of your travel destinations on social media as it is just alerting others that you aren’t home, Donnelly said.
With strangers knocking on doors, people should make sure to ask for identification before opening the door. Doors should be kept locked and curtains should be kept closed, Donnelly said.
“Be a good neighbor and pay attention to any suspicious activity or persons in the area,” Donnelly said.
Eye contact should be made with strangers while a person is out and about. Women should keep their purse close against their bodies and men should try to carry their wallets in their front pockets. Only the credit cards needed when out shopping should be kept in a purse or wallet and a person should not carry large amounts of money, Donnelly said.
Packages should be stored in the trunk of motor vehicles and those vehicles should be locked. Always have keys ready when going to your car, Donnelly said.
People should avoid charity scams, which pick up more around the holidays as people are in the giving spirit, and avoid giving out personal information over the phone. Ask charities to mail forms that need to be filled out instead, Donnelly said.
“Don’t hesitate to notify police and trust your instincts,” Donnelly said.