Capt. Jere Williams: Police Beat

The holiday season is approaching again, and it allows us the opportunity to share the various holidays with family and friends. This can be the most joyous time of year, but it can be difficult and challenging too. Unfortunately, it can also be unsafe, with the increase of drunk drivers on the streets and the thieves, purse-snatchers and robbers who choose easy victims to target.

Remember to keep alert and be aware of your surroundings, both in front of and behind:
• Keep your purse and wallet in a secure place, and take a limited number of credit cards with you when you shop;
• Don't show or count your cash in a public area;
• Don't purchase more than you can comfortably carry, and don't return to your car to drop-off bags, where a criminal may see you (Broken car windows often lead to the trunk release being used, and those safely hidden bags are taken.);
• If a criminal confronts you, give them whatever they ask for. You can replace your purchases; it's your personal safety and well-being that matters most;
• If you have to shop late in the evening, try to have someone with you;
• Park your car in a well-lit area and look around before entering or getting out of your vehicle;
• If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver before the event (A first time drunk driving arrest may cost as much as $10,000, probation and a suspended license.).

Remember that criminals are looking for an easy target, so don't use the trunk of your vehicle as a hiding place for gifts. Leave a light on when you go out for the evening, or even in the afternoon if you don't plan on returning until later.

Cancel your newspaper if you are going to be out of town and hold your mail at the post office if needed. Ask a neighbor to check your porch for unexpected deliveries from UPS or FedEx. These small signs tell a burglar that you are not at home, and these easy precautions help keep your holiday season happy.

It is also the time of year when depression has an effect on a lot of people. If you feel depressed or see the warning signs of depression in a family member, friend or neighbor, remember that there is help, 24-hours every day.

The Crisis Hot-Line number is (415) 781-0500 and the Friendship Line for the Elderly is at (415) 752-3778.

Please call if you need to talk to someone.

Capt. Jere Williams is the commanding officer at the Richmond Police Station.