As the holiday season gets under way — a time when thefts typically increase — law enforcement officials are reminding people to be smart.
Winchester Police Capt. James Hall said so far, theft numbers are at a normal level. Police typically see an increase in crimes of opportunity around this time, like shoplifting and thefts from vehicles.
“If you’re out shopping, do not leave anything in your vehicle that’s visible,” he said. “It’s always a good idea to lock items that you purchase up in the trunk so that people won’t see them.”
Hall advised people to keep their homes well-lit and locked, and said to keep lights on if no one is home to give the impression that someone is there.
People going out of town, he said, should ask a neighbor to keep an eye on their property.
Kentucky State Police Trooper and public information officer Paul Blanton said burglaries for the entire year went up 3 percent from 2009 to 2010 statewide.
In 2010, there were 29,170, up from 28,055 in 2009, Blanton said.
“This time of year, people want to put their trees where everyone can see it from the street ... and that is something that could encourage burglaries,” Blanton said. “We encourage people to (not) leave your gifts in the house where they can easily be seen.”
Blanton also said people should go shopping with two or more people and park in well-lit areas, and suggested carrying over-the-shoulder purses instead of those just over the arm. On large shopping trips,he suggested taking purchased items to lock up in the car in shifts so that not everything has to be carried at once.
If making purchases with cash, he said, people should keep their money in their front pocket “where it’d be harder for somebody to be pickpocketed.”
Another aspect of shopping to think about, Blanton said, is safety when making purchases online. He encouraged people to exercise judgment when buying anything over the Internet because of scams.
Monday, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with other federal agencies, announced that they had seized 150 website domain names for illegally selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise to consumers.
"For most, the holidays represent a season of good will and giving, but for these criminals, it's the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers," ICE Director John Morton said in a news release. "More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, American business profits stolen and American consumers receiving substandard products. And the ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime."
The feat came as part of the eighth phase of Operation In Our Sites, a law enforcement initiative “to protect consumers by targeting counterfeit and piracy on the Internet,” and it was the second year it coincided with Cyber Monday, according to the news release.
The 150 seized domains include 100jerseys.com, bootsforwomenonsaleonline.com, cheapestjerseysale.com, discountedjerseys.org, pumaoutlets.net and verycheapjerseys.com. Visitors to the sites are now greeted with a seizure banner telling them that federal authorities have seized the domain name and informing them that copyright infringement is a federal crime and what penalties it carries.
For the full list of sites and to learn how to report thefts occurring on the Internet, visit www.ice.gov/news/releases/1111/111128washingtondc.htm.
Contact Katie Perkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter, @TheSunKatie.