Police, DFA urge people to be safe this holiday season

Published 5:07 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

FRANKLIN—The holiday season is the time for giving and spreading good cheer. City police and the Downtown Franklin Association also want it to be the time for being vigilant and safe.

Police Chief Phillip Hardison and Jack Norvell, the president of the DFA, together have compiled a list of action items for both merchants and shoppers alike during the holidays.

“Premptively, we just want to remind people to be careful and be attentive to their surroundings and what’s going on, so that we limit the criminal opportunist to cause them harm or to take advantage of them,” Hardison said.

The suggestions are:

Having stores leave at least one light on through the night, so “police riding by can look in and see that it’s a person that owns the store, or whether it’s somebody breaking in,” Norvell said.

Hardison said that for police, “it’s easier to see in if there is some illumination, than it is if there’s someone in there that shouldn’t be in there to then see out.”

Norvell added, “It’s safety for an officer also. He’s not walking up to a dark window and has a gun pointed at his face.”

Asking merchants not to cover their store windows with advertising that makes it difficult for police or passersby to see in. “Don’t make (ads) real gaudy,” Norvell said, adding that ads should be set up in such a way that “if somebody is walking by they can see activity going on in the store.”

Lock your vehicles. Norvell said that some businesses, such as hairdressers and tax preparers, tend to work late hours. “If you go down and work in your store … lock your cars, so when you go back (to your car) you’re safe,” he said.

Hardison advised that people should not just lock their cars but also lock up “any valuables in the car and remove them from sight — cell phones, GPSs, purses, wallets, checkbooks — things that people customarily just leave on the seat. They could either lock those things in the glove compartment or move them to the trunk, just so that they’re out of sight.”

“A locked car is not a very secure piece of property. The only thing that stands between an item and an individual is a pane of glass,” Hardison said.

Tell people where you are going, and when you will be back. “Let somebody know at home, or a co-worker, that you’re going to your store,” Norvell said. “(Or that) you’re going to be an hour, so that after an hour’s time they can check on you and be sure you’re all right.”

Keep any weapons in a secure place. “Do not have guns laying around in your automobile … or in your stores,” Norvell said. “A kid can pick up a gun.”

Report any strange behavior to the police.

Merchants should notify the police if they are working at their store at night.

The recommendations are “a common-sense approach to public safety awareness,” Hardison said. “We have a very active and mobile patrol given the holidays, particularly downtown in the business district (and along) Armory Drive. A lot of things that we see customarily this time of year are either businesses that are broken into or vehicles that are broken into.”

This will be the second year that the DFA and the police have made these suggestions. According to Hardison, there was “a significant increase in commercial burglaries” during the holiday season last year.

Norvell said “in the 25 years that I’ve lived here, last year was the first time I saw that it was really necessary to put security cameras downtown.”