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Safety and Awareness Tips for the Holiday Season
December 17, 2021

Traditionally accompanying the ushering in of the holiday season is an uptick in burglaries, thefts, and other crimes of opportunity. Over the past four weeks, the campus has reported multiple bike thefts, three package thefts, and one burglary of a Caltech Housing apartment. To help our community minimize their risk of being the victim of a crime Security is offering the following suggestions:

Delivery Packages

  • Have your packages delivered elsewhere, such as Caltech's Shipping and Receiving address, your place of employment, an Amazon delivery site, P.O. box, or FedEx/UPS location. It's well worth the minor inconvenience to ensure your packages are safe.
  • Request that deliveries require a signature. With carriers like FedEx or UPS, you can often set this preference using your customer account, even if the package is already on its way. In other cases, such as USPS deliveries, you will need to arrange for a signature ahead of time.
  • Subscribe to delivery alerts. All of the major delivery services offer some kind of notification service for package updates. Opt in to receive the most up-to-date information available.
  • Keep the area around your front porch clear and visible. This is a burglary prevention tip often shared by police officers. Thieves want to be able to get to and from your doorstep undetected. When they're likely to be seen, they're more likely to choose another target.
  • Request nondescript packaging. When possible, ask senders not to announce where the package is coming from, especially if it's from a high-end store. Sometimes this is possible through requesting a gift shipping option.

Shopping

  • Plan your trip.
  • Let someone know your plan.
  • Park in a well-lit area. Write down the aisle number. Use valet if alone.
  • Limit your liability. Carry only what you will use (cash and/or credit cards).
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
  • Have security or employees walk you out.
  • Have your keys in hand when exiting the store. Don't get distracted looking for your keys, cell phone, or shopping receipts.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings, if you feel uncomfortable with someone in the parking lot or behind you, quickly return to the store or attract the attention of someone in the lot.
  • Do not walk next to vehicles.
  • Do not take time to arrange packages while in the parking lot.
  • Get in and get moving quickly. Lock the doors as soon as you get in the car.
  • Do not roll down your windows to strangers who approach your vehicle for any reason.

Purses/Handbags

  • Carry the smallest possible purse that will hold all of your necessary items.
  • Do not leave your purse unattended.
  • Do not count your money in public.
  • Carry your purse close to your body or under your coat.
  • Use a waist pouch (fanny-pack) if possible
  • Estimate how much cash is needed that day or trip and only carry that amount.

Burglary Prevention

  • Do not over-decorate entry areas or windows.
  • Do not leave presents in your vehicle.
  • Wrap gifts as soon as possible.
  • Do not put packages in plain view.
  • Set automatic timers for lights.
  • Do not put empty boxes out until garbage day.
  • Keep receipts.
  • Secure your valuables in locked compartments.
  • Lock your office and dorm doors when leaving for any amount of time.
  • Do not leave personal items unattended
  • Do not prop exterior doors open.

Going to Parties

  • Go with a friend.
  • Eat before going.
  • Have a designated driver.
  • Call a cab or friend if you drink too much.
  • Remember that there are usually guaranteed rides offered by Metro and several ride services that run through the holiday season.
  • Do not pick up a drink once you set it down (to avoid the possibility of being drugged)

Tips for Avoiding an Aggressive Driver.

The holiday season can often be stressful and cause drivers to become more aggressive. Don't engage: one angry driver can't start a fight unless another person is willing to join in. Refuse to let them make you angry. Give them a lot of room. A driver who you may have offended could "snap" and become dangerous. If another driver is acting angry with you, don't make eye contact. Looking or staring at another driver can turn an impersonal encounter into a two-vehicle duel.

As always, a little prevention will go a long way toward helping to make this holiday season enjoyable and memorable.

Trust your instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, get out or get away and CALL SECURITY IMMEDIATELY.

If you need emergency help, call x5000 on campus (626-395-5000 if you are off campus) or call 911.

If you have any information pertaining to these incidents, please call Security immediately.