Don’t be a victim on vacation

With the Fourth of July behind us family vacations are kicking into high gear. Remembering my childhood growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, my brother and I would always get excited when summer vacation time rolled around. My Dad worked for the City of Phoenix and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Our family took a one-week summer vacation every year and boy, did my brother and I look forward to it. I remember great family vacations to places like Disneyland in California, the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, the Painted Desert and Tombstone Arizona – yes Tombstone, the best vacation a 9-year-old cowboy could ever have. Why? On October 26, 1881, the most famous gunfight of the American Old West took place in Tombstone at a place called the O.K. Corral and I was vacationing there. I had my cowboy hat and a pair of double holstered cap guns strapped on, ready for trouble and walking the same streets as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday once did. Wow, what a great vacation for a kid!

But anyway, let’s move on to the topic of crime prevention. Now the last thing I thought about when going on vacation as a kid was safety and security, but that was always the first thing on my dad’s mind. In preparing for vacation, my dad would let our neighbors know when we were leaving and returning so they could keep an eye on the house and report any suspicious or criminal activity to police. The last thing my dad would do before leaving is go through the house to make sure all doors and windows were closed securely and locked. Then he would give our next door neighbor our house key and a number to contact him in case of an emergency.

Unfortunately, being on vacation can often lead to victimization if crime prevention measures are nott followed. Today we must be concerned with being victimized while on vacation because of everything going on in the world today including international and domestic terrorism. Here are some simple safety tips to consider when planning your vacation this summer.

Secure your residence

Make sure all doors and windows are locked securely.

Make sure your residence looks lived in and not empty.

Ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your house while you are away and provide them with a phone number they can reach you in case of an emergency.

Make sure you have timers for lights, radios and television’s set for appropriate times.

Ask your neighbor to park in your driveway to make your house look occupied.

Call local police and advise them that you will be away on vacation.

On the road

Try not to carry large amounts of cash; if you have to, don’t openly display it.

Don’t carry more credit cards than you need.

Don’t stop for hitchhikers or stranded motorists.

Never tell your plans to strangers. This includes travel routes and amounts of cash you are carrying.

If you suspect you are being followed call 9-1-1 and drive to a well populated area if possible.

Mark your luggage so it is easily identified. Take pictures of your luggage so airline personnel can identify it if lost.

Car security

Always lock your vehicle after entering it or leaving it.

Park in well lighted areas.

Check the back seat before entering your vehicle.

Always place valuables out of sight, preferably in the trunk.

Try not to advertise that you are a tourist.

Hotel and motel security

Place all luggage in your room and leave nothing in your vehicle.

Do not leave valuables in your room when you are not there.

Keep a daily check of all your belongings.

Place all extra cash, jewelry or other valuables in the hotel or motel safe.

Do not open your room door unless you identify the person.

Unpack your luggage and arrange it so you will know if anything is missing.

Summer Vacation should be an enjoyable and memorable time for the entire family. If you plan well and are properly prepared, you will lower your chance of becoming the victim of a crime and having your great vacation memories ruined.

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Chuck Dicken is the Community Watch coordinator for Mifflin County Communities That Care. He can be reached by calling 248-5692.