By Tamas Mondovics

With only days away from the time for the traditional holiday gift giving ritual, for some the joy or chore of the holiday shopping is winding down, while for others it’s a mad dash to the mall, or anywhere, where they may find the perfect gift before it is too late.

Either way, to ensure this holiday season will not end in disaster, putting safety could help prevent possible crimes.

For starters, residents are supported by Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies who are and will be working around the clock to keep the community safe this holiday season.

Sheriff David Gee made sure that additional deputies are and will be conducting enhanced traffic operations around malls to not only monitor the flow of traffic, but to also deter criminal activity.

According to HCSO Chief Public Information Officer Debbie Carter, Mounted Patrol, Motorcycle and Bike Patrol are being utilized around the malls to ensure shoppers’ personal safety and to eliminate vehicle burglaries.

“In addition to having an increased presence around stores, for those leaving town for the holidays, deputies have been scheduled to patrol neighborhoods to ensure the safety of your property as well,” Carter said. “The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is doing its part to help keep the citizens of Hillsborough County safe, but now, it’s the resident’s turn to stay informed, alert and educated about their personal safety and the safety of their property.

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See below for safety tips and visit  for more information.



-When shopping, lock your car doors and roll up your windows.

-Limit the amount of cash you carry.  If possible, pay for your purchases with a credit or debit card.

-Limit the amount of jewelry you wear.

-Keep your purse close to your body and your wallet in an inside jacket pocket if possible.

-Place all packages in your trunk so they are not visible to individuals walking close to your vehicle.

-Remember where you parked your vehicle and have your car keys in hand when approaching your vehicle.

-Don’t leave cell phones, purses or other items in your parked car where they can be seen.


When using ATM machines:

-Use one in a populated area and pay constant attention to your surroundings.

-If possible, use ATM machines during daylight hours.

-If anyone is lurking near the machine, pass it up and find another.

-Remember to retrieve your credit/debit card after transaction.


At Home:

-Be cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave your home.

-Don’t display gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.

-Leave a light or a television on when away from home so it seems the home is occupied.

-Be wary of strangers coming to your door asking for charitable donations.

-Do not leave boxes from gifts outside for the trash collector. Take them to a dumpster so that your house is not targeted by thieves that are looking for homes that have just bought new appliances, etc.


On Vacation:

-Before you leave, contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office with the dates of departure and return. Your home will be periodically checked by deputies patrolling your area while you are gone.

-Notify the post office to hold your mail or arrange for a neighbor to pick up your mail daily.

-Have a neighbor pick up your newspaper each day.

-Make arrangements to have your grass cut and watered while you are gone.

-Move valuables so that they cannot be seen from windows.

-Have someone pick up flyers and circulars from your doorway.

-Leave your number with a trusted neighbor so that they may contact you should anything be suspicious.

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