Holiday Safety Tips

By Jeremy Park

Last week we explored an easy way we can start planning ahead to make 2013 a Year of Books by working with Shelby County Books from Birth to plant the seeds of literacy and help build a stronger foundation for our future. This week, with the holiday shopping season now in overdrive, it is the perfect time to review some helpful safety tips that will allow us to protect our family and friends and thwart the traditional holiday spike in crime.

Thanks again to the Phelps family, who own Phelps Security and organize a community action group known as B.I.G. for Memphis (Business Interest Group). The group hosts monthly meetings that bring business leaders together with colonels from the Memphis Police Department for abbreviated Blue CRUSH presentations and to share information and helpful crime prevention tips. Below are some tips from the MPD colonels that will help us to be safer this holiday season.

Lock your car doors and keep your windows rolled up while pumping gas. Ladies, instead of leaving your purse in the passenger seat, hide it or place it under your seat. Thieves are opening car doors and stealing purses while women are pumping gas. They are also working in pairs, so as one distracts you, the other reaches into your car.

Hide all belongings BEFORE you get to the store or destination. Thieves are watching as you arrive, so if you try to hide your personal artifacts then, it may be too late. Avoid dropping off shopping bags and re-entering stores for the same reason. Make sure to park in a well-lit area, near people, and remember to stash things like cords and mounts with your iPods and GPS systems.

When exercising at a gym, carry your keys with you versus leaving them in a locker. Criminals are getting into the lockers, grabbing your keys, clicking the alarm to find your car, then stealing it.

Keep your home well lighted and bushes trimmed near doors and in front of windows. Avoid placing your Christmas tree in front of a window, which showcases presents. If traveling, have neighbors pick up your mail and paper. Report any suspicious vehicles to your precinct.

Keeping your business tidy and clean deters crime. Two employees should open and close your store. Test your alarm and surveillance cameras to make sure they work. Lastly, ladies, if someone does try to grab your purse, throw your purse the opposite direction and run away. Almost always, the thief will go toward the purse, giving you time to flee. Just make sure you have copies of your credit cards at home.

These tips apply to everyone, everywhere and not just in Memphis. I encourage you to help spread the word and let us work together to keep our community safe this holiday season.

Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (