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Police seek to prevent holiday crime

Profile image for By Megan Gray / Staff Writer
By Megan Gray / Staff Writer

The Denton Police Department has launched an effort to help the community have a crime-free holiday season.

Shoppers are out in abundance everywhere, and police are urging the public to stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around them. Since major holiday shopping began on Black Friday, police have already been keeping watch.

“We put extra patrol units and traffic units out beginning Friday in the shopping districts and heavily traveled thoroughfares to keep an eye out for auto burglaries, thefts and address traffic issues due to holiday shopping,” said Chief Lee Howell.

Howell said the department’s “Lock-Take-Hide” campaign is ongoing and more important this time of year than ever.

The initiative encourages residents to lock their vehicles, take belongings out of their vehicles and hide belongings inside their vehicles while shopping.

To help prevent a vehicle from being stolen, never leave it running while you are inside your home or at a store — even if only a minute or two — police said.

Holiday parties can also lead to mishaps. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is taken seriously by police, and if you have had too much to drink, don’t drive.

To help keep the streets safe, patrols will be beefed up until the new year begins.

“We will be having extra traffic units out during the month of December working DWI enforcement,” said police spokesman Officer Ryan Grelle. “At this time, we are still working on the number of extra officers that will be working the DWI enforcement.”

Christmas is the time of giving, and Howell and his team want to make sure everyone is on alert for any potential fraud.

Criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts, and it’s not uncommon for people to try to take advantage of others’ generosity during the holidays by going door to door seeking charitable donations when there is no charity involved, according to a holiday safety statement from police.

If you are unsure about a person, ask for identification and find out how the funds will be used.

If you aren’t satisfied, don’t give. Help a charitable organization you know and like instead.

Solicitors should obtain a permit from the city of Denton prior to going door to door.

The city allows solicitors to conduct business during specific hours only: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Soliciting is not allowed on Sundays or holidays, city officials said.

Anyone who witnesses a holiday theft should call 911 immediately, police said.

Should you see any suspicious activity, call the police department at 940-349-8181.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is



Here are some tips from the Denton Police Department on how to safely celebrate this holiday season.

If at home:

* Keep doors and windows locked.

* Consider how much of your residence you are exposing to people passing by on the street when you have your curtains open (displaying seasonal ornaments, etc.).

If out for the evening:

* Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone’s home.

* Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

* Don’t display gifts where they can be seen from outside. 

If traveling:

* Get an automatic timer for lights.

* Ask a neighbor to watch your home, and park in the driveway from time to time.

* Don’t forget to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped — if it piles up, it’s a sure sign you’re gone.

If shopping:

* Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you.

* Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to close the windows and lock the car.

* Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible. (Note: Remember to get your credit card(s) back from the salesclerk at the end of your transaction).

* Deter purse-snatchers. Don’t overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Do not leave your purse unattended in a shopping cart (even while you turn your back to look at an item on a shelf, etc.).

* Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.