Students should stay alert during busy holiday season
Christmas has arrived. Did the guilt invade the air yet? Listen! Aerial spirits are harmonizing nearby in the haystack fantasies of a colorless December. It is true that there is no snow this year, but stories with catchy titles such as ‘Dude, where are my gifts?’ and ‘Robbed before Christmas’ invade the headlines of the holiday season.’
There is nothing worse than donating your hard-earned Christmas shopping loot to a robber. After years of celebrating Christmas, but ultimately being robbed on this momentous occasion yearly, Houstonians and the Houston Police Department have thankfully rediscovered the joy of following simple precautions for safe shopping, and it’s about time.
Robberies spike during the holiday season. UH students, no need to fear: tips from the HPD are here. The department distributes a robbery prevention guide yearly during the holiday season.
Most robberies take place on the way to and from the car, especially in shopping centers and apartment parking lots. Simple changes to your habits can help prevent misfortune.
Some of the basic prevention techniques in the HPD guidelines include: avoid walking alone; it is a lot safer to walk with at least one other person; be alert of the surrounding; save daydreaming for home; and when walking at night, consider parking near the destination or calling a friend to accompany you, even for short trips. Others suggest trusting your instincts and avoiding uncomfortable situations. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Also, be observant for groups of large crowds driving or just hanging around. An important lifesaver would be carrying only the amount of cash you expect to use. If cash is needed, use ATM or debit cards. Avoid outdoor ATMs, particularly at night and those in questionable areas ‘- neighborhoods you aren’t familiar with and secluded, empty shopping centers. Carrying large amounts of cash marks you as a target.
Do not take shortcuts through unlit, sparsely traveled paths such as trails, stairwells or alleys. Remember what happened to Edward Norton when he walked into the dark alley in Death to Smoochy? For those who don’t remember (or haven’t seen the movie), it was not a pleasant experience for Norton.
Avoid showing your wallet. Keep needed cash, ID and credit cards in an accessible pocket.
And lastly, do not carry a purse. I know this may be hard, but it will help avoid trouble.
A couple of merry UH students shared their opinions when asked if they were afraid of being robbed.
‘In a big city like Houston, yes, I (would) be scared if I left things in my car,’ kinesiology senior Lisa Diaz said.
‘I am not afraid of being robbed; I don’t own anything worth robbing,’ biology junior Reham Qasrawi said.
Even if one lacks earthly possessions and is monetarily challenged, the tips provided will make this holiday a lot smoother.
Keep this information in mind, and check out the rest of the tips at www.houstontx.gov/police/pdfs/RobberyPersonal2Feb09.pdf.
Most importantly, have a happy holiday.
Bissan Rafe is a biology senior and may be reached at [email protected]