WAXAHACHIE — Like the Grinch who observed the residents of Whoville from his cave, some criminals looking to capitalize on a person’s single mistake.

However, there are steps people can take to keep "Grinches" at bay as they go about making final holiday preparations.

“There are just a few basic things that are easy to do that people forget about when they are out shopping," Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said. “Be aware of your surroundings, park in well-lit areas, don’t be texting or looking on your phones as you're walking along and pay attention to the people that are around you. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity.”

Goolsby said one offense that the police department deals with the most during the holidays is property crimes, namely items taken out of vehicles. He advises people to keep valuables out of plain view and lock the car. Those two steps will reduce a person’s chance of becoming a victim significantly.

HOME SECURITY

In the Dr. Seuss story, the Grinch steals gifts by entering homes that are not secured. Residents can keep a Grinch away from their homes by taking a few steps law enforcement official’s call “hardening the target.”

“Holiday times are times when Crimes do spike. When you do leave your home, lock it up. It helps at night to have lights on timers. So they come on and off to make it appear that you’re at home,” Goolsby said. “If you are going to leave your home to go somewhere for the holidays and if you have a neighbor that you know and trust let them know. Have them keep an eye on your house. Those are the kind of things that are just real basic things that will help you reduce your chances of becoming a victim.”

OTHER PREVENTION MEASURES

In the event a theft does occur, Goolsby suggests that residents engrave their driver’s license number onto larger items like bikes, tools and lawn equipment they might receive as a gift. This step will help to get the item back to its rightful owner.

“The driver’s license number is great because we can run that number. We can find out what your name is and where you live and get that item back to you,” Goolsby said. “The driver’s license (number) is ideal but do not put your social security number on there for multiple reasons. Number one is for identify theft. If somebody gets that (item) you are giving them a social security number. Two we don’t have access to social security databases. So that number does not help to identify who you are.”

BY THE NUMBERS

The National Retail Federation’s website projects that sales — excluding vehicle, gas and restaurant sales — from November and December are expected to be $655.8 billion. This is a 3.6 percent increase, which is significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. The NRF also projects that holiday sales rose by 3.2 percent from 2015.

According to the Waxahachie Police Department crime statistics, in November and December of 2015, there were a total of 90 larceny-thefts (includes burglary of a motor vehicle), 22 burglaries and five robberies. In the two months prior, September and October, there was a total of 96 larceny-thefts, 12 burglaries, and three robberies.

The crime statistics also show that, in November and December 2014, there was a total of 142 larceny-thefts, 17 burglaries, and one robbery. In the September and October of that same year, there was a total of 131 larceny-thefts, 27 burglaries, and one robbery.

“We have put [forth] a special effort during the holiday time. We have a special schedule where we spend extra hours patrolling parking lots and business and keeping an eye on areas that are busy,” Goolsby said. “The county has been gracious enough to let us use their observation tower. We are using it to overlook some large parking lots. We put a special effort this time of year to keep those offenses down to try and make sure that people have a safe holiday too.”

— Follow Andrew on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI. Contact him at andrew.branca@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1451