Be on Your Guard During the Holidays!


    It’s Christmas time again! However, while we indulge in the season, Christmas is also the time of year we can be most vulnerable to criminal activities. If enjoying the festive atmosphere in Jamaica, keep your guard up, as criminals are also routinely going about their business, looking keenly for those who seem unaware.

    Here are some reminders as you or your family and friends go to and fro this season:

    • Don’t carry large sums of money– Carry just what you need to make your purchases and pay for services, such as bus and taxi fare. It’s good to plan your spending ahead. It keeps you secure, plus it keeps you on budget.
    • Avoid riding with cash to make payments– At this time of year, some people withdraw large sums to make payments to workers who may not have access or limited relationships with financial institutions. If getting the worker a bank account or a JN Money card (which is easy to sign up for) isn’t possible, consider having the worker(s) meet you instead in the parking lot of the institution instead of travelling off the compound with the cash.
    • Limit trips to the ATM- Try to shop where you can use your debit card or credit card so that you can limit the use of cash to make payments. This reduces your use of cash and the probability of using an ATM, which may both pose criminal risks to you. Plus, you save on cost, as most financial institutions only offer a certain number of free withdrawals monthly. There is a fee for debit card purchases, but these are often much lower than withdrawing hard cash from an ATM.
    • Beware of merchants who accept cash only– Criminals may be watching these merchants closely and you could fall victim to robberies of these establishments or could be targeted when entering or leaving them.
    • Shop early– Avoid last-minute shopping. You may be forced to navigate crowds where criminals lurk or become prey to fraudsters. Shopping early saves you money and peace of mind.
    • Always try to have company when out– Shop with someone else who can help to share the load or be there to assist you.
    • Purchase expensive items last– Especially if you’re using cash, make your most expensive purchase your last one. It reduces the risk of being followed while shopping.
    • Look out for motorcycles– If you hear or see motorcycles be on your guard. Snatch and ride incidents are fairly commonplace and increase during the high shopping seasons, such as Christmas.
    • When on the road, be skeptical of people who offer assistance unsolicited– It may be an attempt to distract you, get you to drop your guard or an attempt by the criminal to appear familiar to avoid arousing suspicion. Also be careful about persons who are dressed in uniforms or other service attire who may be offering services you did not solicit, especially if they visit your home or business place unannounced. Ask for identification and peruse it carefully or call the company they are purporting to be from for confirmation. Do not let them into your space if there is doubt!
    • Avoid people who arouse your suspicion– As a general rule, if you feel uncomfortable with the individual, do not let them into your space!
    • Be observant and aware of your surroundings- Be aware of where you are and who is around, as you walk, ride or drive and be prepared to spring into action.
    • Avoid walking at nights- If you don’t have to be on the road at nights, don’t go out. If you must, avoid walking alone and walk in only well-lit areas.
    • If in an unfamiliar community or urban centre, take legitimate transportation– If you must take a taxi, look for those bearing red plates and those displaying the driver’s information. If you’re travelling alone, share the information with someone, and if possible, keep them updated on your whereabouts along the journey, so that there will be a record that can be traced just in case anything happens.
    • Look out for strange people in your community– Be vigilant and report strangers or raise an alarm in your community groups or to the police.
    • If you work with a company that has a security policy, follow it closely all the time– People are often most vulnerable when they leave home and when returning home. Be alert and don’t drop your guard!
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