Eight Most Common Holiday Season Crimes
The holidays are most people’s favorite time of the year. Holiday parties, gift shopping, good food, and time spent with family and friends make for an enjoyable season.
However, while people celebrate, they can forget that the holiday season often brings with it a spike in crime. Unfortunately, the holidays are also most criminals’ favorite time of year. People being distracted by holiday cheer is a good time for theft, fraud, and burglary.
Plus, with alcohol flowing more freely than usual, more people might be tempted to drive under the influence. Alcohol and other factors also increase the occurrence of sexual assault and domestic violence around the New Year.
Many holiday crimes are common throughout the world. Stay aware of these eight most common holiday season crimes this year to ensure your holidays are filled with nothing but joy.
Auto theft is becoming more and more common around the holidays. To protect yourself against auto theft, make sure that you always take your keys out of the car with you and that you lock your car. Additionally, don’t leave any valuables (including holiday gifts) in your vehicle.
If you can park your car in a garage or other protected structure, this can help reduce the possibility of becoming a holiday crime victim.
Shoplifters are very well positioned to succeed during the holiday season as stores are full of people and employees are busy and distracted. If you are a business owner or employee, this is likely a scary concern for you. To avoid an increase in shoplifting around the holidays, you can:
- Install security cameras,
- Hire additional staff, and
- Contract with a security company.
You should also remember that taking a product without paying for it is not the only way for a criminal to shoplift. If someone writes a bad check or you find someone tampered with a price tag, you might have grounds to press charges. An experienced lawyer can walk you through that process.
Most people are making tons of purchases around the holidays. Every purchase—from the Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas tree ornaments and gifts—can give hackers the opportunity to steal your identity. Identity thieves might snatch the credit card you forgot on the counter at the mall. Or they may try to scam you into a fraudulent purchase online.
Be sure to pay attention to your physical and virtual surroundings every time you make a payment during the holidays. If you’re shopping in person, take the extra moment to tuck your credit card back into the safety of your wallet. If you’re an online shopper, make sure the websites you purchase from are secure. It is also a good idea to monitor your bank statements and credit report around the holidays to avoid common holiday crimes.
Finally, people tend to be away from home more during the holidays. This presents a great opportunity for criminals to burglarize your home.
Luckily, there are ways to avoid becoming a victim of burglary. Storing your valuables out of sight (and under lock and key if possible) will remove some temptation for burglars. Making sure you lock up your doors and windows will also deter criminals from entering. If you’ve considered getting a home security system, right before the holidays is a great time to have one installed.
Driving Under the Influence
Crimes committed against you are not the only crimes you should worry about around the holidays. Unsuspecting individuals can commit common crimes during the holidays.
One of the most common of these crimes is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Especially this year, holiday parties will be exciting events to reconnect with friends and family. However, with reunions often comes alcohol. So if you choose to indulge in alcohol during the holidays, do not risk being charged with a DUI. Designate a driver or call a cab or rideshare service.
Speaking of alcohol, increased consumption around the holidays leads to increased instances of sexual assault. More people are left vulnerable at holiday parties and restaurants than at other times of the year. So make sure to watch your drink at all times. Many ill-intentioned people spike others’ drinks at holiday parties. If you think your drink tastes off, throw it out and get another one.
To avoid being accused of sexual assault, be cautious of what you say to and how you behave around other people. A joke might come across as sexual harassment, or if you drink too much, your judgment could become impaired.
Unfortunately, sometimes taking those steps to avoid sexual assault is not enough. The number of rape cases skyrockets during the holidays. The best way to avoid this situation (as the victim or offender) is, again, to limit your alcohol consumption.
If you are a victim of rape or other sexual assault over the holidays, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
With more family gatherings during the holidays, tensions can be high amongst relatives. For this reason, cases of domestic violence increase during the holiday months.
If you know that you have a strained relationship with a relative you plan to see around the holidays, it is best to diffuse the situation before it occurs. You can try to talk to the family member or even go to counseling together ahead of the family gathering.
But if domestic violence occurs in your house during the holidays, report the incident to the police immediately.
The holidays are supposed to be a fun time to relax and enjoy. However, the risk of crime cannot be overlooked during this cheerful time. Always pay attention to your surroundings and make responsible decisions.
The lawyers at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices wish you a happy and safe holiday season! If you or a loved one find yourself needing a criminal charges defense attorney during the New Year, our attorneys will evaluate your cases for free.