Be Aware of Merry Criminal Christmas!
Minnesota – December 24, 2018
As the 2018 holiday season is well underway, we should remind you once again that Christmas is not only carols, candles, smiles, and gifts: It’s also a time when people could easily become victims of criminals who consider this their “golden” time of year.
The hustle and bustle of shopping for presents and entertaining relatives stresses people out and can be quite distracting, making people easy targets for scammers and thieves. Package thieves, Christmas light lifters, and other Grinchy activity makes its way into the headlines nearly every year, but other crimes also see quite a rise this time of year.
Criminals do everything to steal the Christmas spirit from decent citizens! "The Becker County Sheriff's Office receives several calls weekly on various scams and fraud related concerns, especially during the Holiday Season," reads a post on the sheriff office's Facebook page warning people to stay alert. That’s how Christmas is “celebrated” in Minnesota.
In the world of virtual reality the nature of illegal activity in the holiday period is different--it becomes “hi-tech,” so to speak.
Whether it's the stress of the holidays making people easy targets or the fact that people are making more online purchases and putting more personal information out around the holiday shopping season, scammers seem to make more calls this time of year — or maybe they're just more successful because people are caught off guard and more easily fall victim.
"We got a call yesterday that somebody received a call from the Social Security Administration stating that their benefits had been discontinued," added Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander.
It's a new gimmick every time, whether the scammer is posing as an insurance agent, someone from the IRS, or any other entity that people would normally trust with personal information. Thieves are also thick this time of year, stealing packages from doorsteps and lifting Christmas decorations from front lawns.
This problem has been recorded in the U.S. for years, and, of course, not only in Minnesota. Eight years ago, Officer Jason Willingham of the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Police Department told researchers from South University that “criminals tend to strike more during the holiday season because they know there are many people out holiday shopping.” "There are more victims out there. The more cars there are, the easier it is for those guys to blend in.” He said he sees purse snatchings and vehicle burglaries at shopping areas go up.
“When you leave the mall, before you walk outside, put your keys in your hand, think about where you parked, and put the cell phone down,” Willingham said. “These guys look for victims. If someone is walking swiftly with a purpose and they know what’s going on around them, they’re not going to attack that individual.”
So, be aware of Merry Criminal Christmas and take care!