Poulsbo detective’s tips to stay safe this holiday season

In an effort to help people stay safe through the holidays, Poulsbo Detective David Gesell offered up some useful tips in a variety of subjects. Without further ado:

Personal Safety

During this holiday season, there are many more people out at the stores and malls. This makes for a perfect environment for many different safety issues. We will start in the parking lot. You should be especially mindful of small children, both your own and others. Most children do not watch for cars, and often run out from between parked cars.

This is also the time of year when vehicle prowls increase. Be sure not to leave purses, bags, boxes or other things visible in your car that might tempt a thief. This includes the GPS or satellite radio stuck to your windshield. Keep in mind, you may know that the box or bag in your car does not have anything of value in it but the thief does not. The thief will break your window to find out and it only takes a few seconds. Thieves have been known to break into cars for as little as a pile of CD’s.

Because of the increased crowds, pickpockets are more prevalent. Be aware of your personal space and do not let people you don’t know get too close to you. Keep strangers at arm’s length and let them know that you see them. Hopefully, they will move on to an easier target. Keep all of your bags and purchases with you and under your control. Do not leave your purse unattended in the shopping cart, even if you are a few feet away looking at something. It only takes a fraction of a second to take your wallet out of your purse when you are turned around. Additionally, many purse thieves are females because they can take another woman’s purse and not look out of the ordinary.

Many thieves today do not steal your purse or wallet for the few dollars inside. They can buy much more with the credit cards and information that you keep inside of it. This is one of the many ways identity theft occurs. Do not carry your social security card with you. Leave it at home someplace safe. Also, be aware of credit card skimmers on ATM machines and gas pumps that can read your card. There is usually a small camera hidden somewhere on the ATM to watch you enter your PIN as well. If it does not look right, don’t do it and notify a bank or gas station employee if possible.

At Home 

Beware of phone, mail, and email scams. Do not provide personal information to anyone, especially if they are unsolicited. Do not open email from unrecognized sources. Do not give out information about when you will or will not be home. This can tell burglars when it is safe to come to your house. Make sure the outside of your house is well lit and maintained so burglars do not have any place to hide while they break in. Always keep your doors and windows locked. If you go on vacation, have a trusted neighbor watch your house and pick up the paper. You may also request vacation house checks from your local law enforcement agency. They will check on your house while you are gone.

Before you decorate your house and hang lights, inspect the items for damage that could lead to a fire. Be careful not to overload any one electrical circuit with too many things plugged into it. Make sure that the batteries in your smoke detectors are good and that you have at least one fire extinguisher in good working order. Many decorations and ornaments are small enough to be choking hazards to children and pets. Additionally, be careful not to put decorations in such a way that small children or pets can pull them down, or the things they are hanging on, and injure themselves.


Do not drink and drive. There are plenty of other ways to get home and the price for drinking and driving is not worth it. Always remember to wear your seatbelt. There are more crashes this time of year because it gets darker sooner, the roads are more slippery, and there are more drunk drivers out. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be there. It is also a good idea to put a blanket in the car in case you become stranded. You might be there a while and it will get cold. Resist the urge to hitchhike if you become stranded and instead, ask the person to call help for you.

Be safe, and have fun!

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