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Time to start talking with family, friends and neighbors about holiday safety



The holiday season is fast approaching, so now is a good time to talk with family, friends and neighbors about keeping each other safe during this busy and exciting time.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office wants to help start the holiday safety conversation by offering tips residents should consider while shopping, traveling or at home.

If you have not already done so, this is also a good time to get to know your neighbors. This includes the people who live next door, across the street and over the back fence. Neighbors watching out for neighbors help keep an eye out for suspicious activity and make communities safer.

You can also increase your home security by signing up for the free online neighborhood safety service, Alert ID, or by starting a Neighborhood Watch program. For more information on both, visit the Washoe County Sheriff’s website.

Beginning on Monday, Nov. 21, follow the Sheriff’s Office on Twitter, @washoesheriff, to receive the “12 Tweets of Holiday Safety.” The Sheriff’s Office plans to provide a series of daily tweets with holiday safety tips to help kick off the traditional holiday shopping season.


  • Lock your vehicle and hide valuables, preferably in the trunk or locked compartment.
  • Before sunrise and after sunset, park and walk in well-lit areas and carry keys in your hand.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings and take a moment to glance around for possible suspicious persons, vehicles and/or situations.
  • When in crowded places, be alert for potential thieves. Don’t overload yourself with packages. Maintain visibility and mobility to avoid potential threats.
  • Be wary of strangers approaching you for any reason. The holiday season is notorious for “con artists” who may attempt to distract you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
  • When possible, avoid carrying large amount of cash and valuables, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Never leave personal belongings unattended.
  • Avoid shopping alone; there is added safety when shopping with a companion.
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers in a secure place at home.
  • When shopping with children, keep a close eye on them at all times. Consider coaching them to go to a store clerk or security guard if they become separated and be sure they know their first and last name so they can advise someone who they are.
  • Give children a contact phone number that they can carry on their person in case they do become lost.


  • Inform someone who’s trustworthy where you will be and when you might be expected back to your residence.
  • Ask a neighbor or other dependable persons to watch your house and retrieve your newspapers and mail if possible.
  • Prior to getting into your vehicle take a look inside and around before entering. If you observe evidence of a possible burglary, call your local law enforcement agency. For the Sheriff’s Office, call 832-WCSO (9276).
  • Anticipate inclement weather and plan accordingly – carry chains, keep sufficient gas in the tank and use extreme caution while driving.

Home safety

  • Be extra cautious about locking windows, sliders and doors when leaving for any length of time. We suggest keeping all entrance points into your house secured while you’re at home as well.
  • Set indoor and outdoor lights on timers and think about doing the same with a television or radio to make it appear as if someone is home.
  • Never keep gifts or valuable objects in plain view from any window. Close blinds, shutters, drapes and curtains because if a burglar can see those items they may attempt to take them from you.
  • If a person knocks at your door and you don’t recognize them, don’t feel obligated to open your door. Teach your children that by no means will they open the door to anyone prior to your knowledge and authorization.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office celebrates 150 years of proud service and community partnership in 2011. Sheriff Michael Haley is the 24th person elected to serve as the sheriff of Washoe County. His office continues to be the only full service public safety agency operating within northern Nevada and is responsible for operating the consolidated detention facility, regional crime lab, Northern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, court security, service of civil process and traditional street patrols.

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