December 18, 2017 | David Silverstein It goes without saying the holiday season typically brings an increase in street crimes such as robbery, theft, assault and commercial/residential burglary. Here are some expert safety tips designed to increase your situational awareness and prevent you from becoming a victim. Avoid large crowd gatherings. Although this is often unavoidable, increase vigilance at shopping malls, public holiday gatherings, hotel lobbies and on public transportation. Walk in groups whenever you can; there is always safety in numbers. Let a family member or friend know of your destination and your estimated time of arrival or return. Avoid alleys, vacant lots, wooded areas, and other short cuts or secluded areas. Walk confidently and directly and don’t stop to talk to strangers. Doing so sends the message that you are calm, confident, and know where you are going. Statistically speaking, your chances of being a victim of carjacking are slim, but keep car doors locked and do not place packages in direct line of sight. It is extremely important to protect your personal identification. Shield your PIN when using ATMs. Keep your personal data safe. Don’t share bank account information, credit card numbers, your Social Security Number and/or country identification number and other personal information. Do not leave smart phones, laptop computers, and other electronics unattended, especially in vehicles.