Editor’s Note: So I’ve seen some security concerns floating around my timeline and decided that I would contact my personal MI5 agent and more officially a Security Consultant Kimberley Hall to see what tips she could give my readers on staying safe not just during the Christmas season but all year round.
Tis the season for family, friends, fun and FOOD. Happy Holidays to everyone, no matter how you choose to celebrate it’s especially important in the ‘silly season’ to be aware (more than usual) of the security risks all this merriment brings.
While out shopping for the loved ones in your life, don’t assume that the mall/plaza security will be aware if anything should happen to you or your parked vehicle. Many try their best, but a determined thief is very crafty and will work VERY hard not to be detected. Play your part and not make yourself the victim of a crime of opportunity:
– DO NOT leave your electronics in your vehicle, EVER. This includes laptops (in or out of cases/bags), tablets, phones and any other electronic devices that are easy to snatch and grab.
PRO TIP: your trunk should be a last resort – it is NOT as safe as you think it is, especially if you are observed putting items in before locking and leaving the vehicle. Rule of thumb: If you can’t carry it with you where you’re going, leave it at home/office.
– Be mindful of WHERE you park your vehicle. The parking crunch is particularly nasty around Christmas time, leaving few desirable options. If you are forced to parked on a curb or some other potentially hazardous place – MAKE IT QUICK. Save the dawdling and aimless window shopping for another time. Get in. Get out.
– Keep your eyes open. This applies to everywhere, everyday, every time. When walking back to your vehicle, especially after dark, look around for other people who may or may not notice you, or who may be following you.
– GET OFF THE PHONE. Yes, I said it. The tweet, IG post and unanswered Whatsapp message can wait. Your distraction makes you an easy target.
While enjoying time with family and friends (and food) at home, we should be mindful of a few things:
– While having an open door policy is clearly the most hospitable hosting manner, keep that door locked in between comings and goings. A would be thief seeing a crowd blissfully unaware of a stranger surprising them is not the kind of gift you want to be giving this season
– Be mindful of where and how your guests parked their cars and keep an eye out for anything or anyone paying a little too much attention to the unattended vehicles.
PRO TIP: an unarmed security guard for a few hours will not run more than J$3000 – consider it an investment in the enjoyment of the evening for you and your guests. Many reputable companies will be happy to provide this service for you, please be considerate and give as much advance notice as possible to allow them to schedule accordingly during this busy season. (And consider the security guard as well, they’re watching while you enjoy – a slice of cake and a glass of sorrel (without the rum) are a welcomed gesture)
– Keep tabs on your guests. This one sounds a little creepy, but it’s really just being good to other people. For arrivals we ALL have that friend who is never on time and perpetually late – check on them anyway. You never know. Check in with your guests when they leave and make sure everyone gets to their destination. You never know.
Office parties, family gatherings, cocktails with friends, the endless list of Christmas parties – let the games begin! But first:
– CHOOSE A DESIGNATED DRIVER. This needs no explanation. “The car knows its way home” sounds nice, but will be no consolation to your loved ones. Let’s just all toss out the excuses with the old year and do it. My night tonight, your night tomorrow. Simple.
– Just like when you’re waiting for guests to arrive at home, check in with your friends. Again, you never know. Someone argued what if you’re on a **secret mission** – now I’m not getting involved in anyone’s creeping game, but you better have at least one person you trust to tell where you are because (one more time) you never know.
– Pay attention. Let me explain: your girlfriend is a few drinks past tipsy and there is a guy who is paying a little too much attention to her. As her friend, get her out of there. Yeah, it’s a buzzkill and will screw up the vibes – but infinitely better than the possible alternatives. You’re not being the fun police, you’re being a friend.
– Ladies: if it can’t fit in the purse/pocket LEAVE IT. No one wants to carry your stuff for you and get a bigger purse if your new phone can’t hold in it. You will be the only one who cares about the cracked screen courtesy of that slide on the dance floor. Now that you’ve got the purse game right, HOLD ON TO IT. You leave it on the bar, in a chair, wherever – as good as gone. No further explanation needed.
When all the fun is said and done, you’re most likely to get held up getting in or out of your vehicle. Not trying to be scary, just honest – GET OFF THE PHONE
and repeat – PAY ATTENTION – is that person in the parking lot following you? has the car behind you made all the same turns in your neighbourhood? Why is there a strange car sitting outside your house/apartment? There are many ways to be followed and to tell if you’re being followed – a little paranoia won’t hurt.
Pass your car and go back into the party. Call attention to other people (pretend to ask for directions or something of the sort). Drive past your house. Go to your nearest police station (not always helpful).
The simple version is this – plan ahead so you have an emergency destination and someone to call in the event of an emergency. Men, this applies to you as well. And last but not least, if you are held up – I don’t have the word count to go into all the possible scenarios – just remember that your possessions are not worth your life.
This is only the tip of the iceberg and applies to everyday, not just the silly season. If you take away nothing else, let it be this – keep your eyes open and pay attention all the time, not just for yourself but for the folks around you.
I hope everyone put these tips to good use!
Faith & Love,