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​Contact: Malcolm Hornsby

For immediate release — Dec. 3, 2019

(DALLAS) — “‘Tis the season” of gifts, gratitude and yes, Grinches looking to steal your holiday cheer. It’s known as the season of giving, but unfortunately there are thieves looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims, said Lauretta Hill, Dallas County Community College District’s chief of police.

“The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but be aware that thieves take advantage of the season by targeting shoppers,” Hill said. “With preparation and following a few holiday safety tips, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim.”

DCCCD hopes to help you stay safe and smart while keeping the spirit of the season alive.

Whether online or in person, shopping remains a major part of holiday preparations. If you plan on staying in and letting your computer do the work, be wary of crooks preying on packages left outside of homes unattended. Hill offered these five tips to help ward off those pesky “porch pirates”:

  1. Network with neighbors.
  2. Have packages delivered to work.
  3. Leave specific drop-off instructions.
  4. Use a smart lock (a key-free replacement for traditional door locks using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi).
  5. Install security cameras.

You’ve likely heard the saying “cash is king,” but Hill said that doesn’t necessarily apply to the holiday shopping season.

“You should limit the amount of cash you carry,” Hill said. Instead, she suggested using debit or credit cards, which are equipped with security features should they fall into the wrong hands. Hill also advised keeping cell phones in a pocket rather than a bag or purse when venturing into the holiday crowds.

“Staying alert of surroundings and shopping with friends, for there is safety in numbers,” rounded out Hill’s advice on staying protected from Christmas crooks.

Ensuring safety is not the only stressor many people face during the holiday season. The mounting pressure of family gatherings can also put a damper on one’s mood. The act of “people-pleasing” can tend to peak during the holidays, with much focus on getting that perfect gift, said Dr. Jennifer Jones, a licensed psychologist at Richland College.

“Do not get yourself into debt trying to show people how much you love them,” Jones said. “Materialism is at its peak during the holiday season, and we all feel pressure to purchase items for all of our loved ones. The reality is many of us do not get more money in December, and therefore we have to create more money that month in order to do all of this purchasing. It just creates undue stress.”

Instead, set price limits on gifts or even consider handmaking an item, Jones said.

“Live in the moment with friends and family, and practice gratitude to be able to be with others,” Jones said.

Self-induced stress aside, for some, Mother Nature may be blamed for the weight or anxiety this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is more prevalent during the holiday season, Jones said. That’s based on factors including a colder, grayer environment during the winter months. Jones suggested seeking professional help.

“People equate therapists, psychologists and counselors with severe mental health issues, when in reality, these people can help with many of life’s trials,” Jones said.

Jones also recommended those individuals affected by SAD research the benefits of a sun lamp, a special light that mimics natural, outdoor light.

“There is some evidence that when the sun is lacking in the environment, you can still get the benefits from a sun lamp,” Jones said.

Consider these tips and advice to hopefully aid in a successful and safe holiday season!

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