SIDNEY — After a long day at work — or time spent in the classroom — it’s time to head home. But before you can do that, you need to stop at the store for groceries or shopping for gifts or other items.
Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is sharing some tips to make sure you get home safely.
“At 3 p.m. on Mondays, you more likely to be a victim of a crime,” said Lenhart of the nationwide statistics. “At 3 p.m. everyday a theft is likely to occur.”
He reflects the 3 p.m. time frame is when many businesses and factories change shifts and school dismisses for the day.
When going to a mall or supermarket, Lenhart offers the following tips on parking your vehicle:
• Park in a well lit area.
• Look for loitering people.
• After shopping, always put your packages in the trunk of the vehicle.
• When arriving at the parking lot, turn off your vehicle, remove the key from the ignition and lock the vehicle’s doors even if you are only going to be in the store for 5 minutes.
• Don’t park next to a trailer or camper as views can be obstructed if something is happening.
“If you’re parking in an underground parking garage,” said Lenhart, “always walk in the center of the aisle.”
• Have your key in hand before arriving at your vehicle.
• Check to see if there are any occupied vehicles nearby.
• Keep one hand free at all times even if it means making two trips for all your packages and bags.
• Check under and around your vehicle before getting into it.
“New vehicles have the car alarm on your key fob,” said Lenhart. “If you’re in trouble, set it off.”
Lenhart said one in five accidents — across America — happen in parking lots.
If you have vehicle trouble, Lenhart said you should pull off the side or the road or into a safe area and turn on your hazard lights. If you have a cellphone, call for help.
“If you don’t have a phone, tie something to your antenna,” said Lenhart. “That’s the signal that you need help.”
He also recommends keeping your windows up and doors locked as you’re waiting for help to arrive.
“Put your valuables, wallet and purse out of sight,” said Lenhart, to deter a would-be thief from stealing your belongings.
A carpool is also a good idea, he said, as it will save gasoline and there’s safety in numbers.
After a successful shopping trip, you’ve now returned home.
“Keep your house key in hand when approaching the door,” said Lenhart. “If anything looks unusual, don’t enter the house. Go back to your vehicle and call the police or sheriff’s office.”
And he recommends making a duplicate house key and give it to a trusted neighbor, friend or family member in case you every get locked out of the house.
“Don’t hide the key in a mailbox, under a rock or under the welcome mat,” he said. “It’ll take someone 45 seconds to find the key.”
And if you’re taking the vehicle in for work, only give the mechanic the ignition key and nothing else. Keep your house and work keys with you and not the vehicle keys.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.