For Marco Islanders the holiday season brings about some of the same activities that their relatives up north are involved in, but just in a little nicer climate. Festive Christmas trees, decorating of houses and businesses in the best of holiday traditions, the wonderful parties hosted for family and friends, and the sharing of the true spirit of the holidays with those they love.
The men and women of the Marco Island Police Department (MIPD) also enjoy the holidays, as do their civilian counterparts. However, they are aware of the need to step up their vigilance to help keep it a safe holiday for the residents and visitors to the island, as does law enforcement across the nation during the holidays.
“We need the help of our residents in our efforts to keep themselves and their property safe during this time of the year,” said Marco’s Police Chief Al Schettino last week. “We’ve said it time and time again, that the people we serve are our front line of defense against crime; we urge them to be aware of what is going on around them,” continued Schettino.
Captain Nick Ojanovac, who heads the Patrol and Investigative Divisions for the department, has listed a number of items that should be front and center of residents’ minds.
- Always secure your homes, whether at home or when you leave. Don’t leave your doors unlocked or sliders and windows unsecured.
- Don’t leave your garage doors open, even when you are at home.
- Always lock your car doors, even if it is sitting in your driveway.
- Never leave a handgun or other firearm in your car. Secure it within your home with proper trigger locks and in a secure location.
- If you’re shopping and purchasing gifts, secure them out of sight of prying eyes, preferably in the trunk of your car. Visible items present a temptation for thieves.
- Review your credit card transactions on a daily basis for suspicious activity to prevent identity theft.
- Keep a list of all credit cards, along with contact phone numbers for each card and keep it in a safe place. This will help in the event they are lost or stolen.
- Train your children to go to a store clerk should he or she get separated from you in a store.
- Never leave a child or pet alone in a car.
- Never leave your car running when away from the vehicle, even for a short time.
- It is not unusual during the holidays to have strangers solicit house-to-house for a charity as a scam, in an attempt to take advantage of your kindness. If in doubt call 911 to report a suspicious person.
- If you’re leaving town for the holidays put your mail and newspapers on hold.
- Call our non-emergency number at 239-389-5050 during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, or stop by headquarters to advise us when you’ll be leaving and returning. Also provide us a good contact number for you in case of emergencies.
- Cabs are a very cost efficient way around the island if you are attending a holiday party, versus getting a DUI, which can cost at a minimum $10,000. We want you to have fun, but we want you and the public to be safe.
“These are all good tips to use year round. We encourage all our residents to be safe and smart around the holidays and every day,” said Captain Ojanovac.