Be alert to crime this holiday season: Berkeley Police tips

Don’t rely on your four-legged friend to alert you to possible crimes. Take precautionary measures. Photo: feverblue

The holiday season is, unfortunately, when many communities experience an increase in crime. The Berkeley Police Department is offering a few holiday safety tips to ensure everyone has a safe and happy holiday.


  • Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
  • Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car.
  • Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
  • Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.
  • Park as close as you can to your destination.
  • Park in well-lit areas.


  • Try to shop during daylight hours when possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages.
  • Walk with a sense of purpose – show you are calm, confident and know where you are going.
  • Don’t store packages in your vehicle while you continue to shop, thieves watch for this kind of activity.

At home

  • Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it is just for a few minutes.
  • Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows/doors of your home.
  • If you leave for an extended period of time, have a friend or family member watch your house and pick up newspaper and mail.
  • Consider having packages delivered to a trusted neighbor if you are not home to receive them. Packages left on door steps can be easily stolen.
  • Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.

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  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    I really thought I was reading a piece out of the Onion here. Is this for real?! Park as close as possible to your destination?! Be afraid of WALKING? Yes, because heart attacks and other sedimentary lifestyle diseases are so pleasant.

    The fact is that violent crime is at the lowest level since the 1950s. What the heck is it with the paranoia?

    Seriously. Did the editors at Berkeleyside actually read this before posting? You folks usually do an absolutely amazing job on your site… but someone clearly didn’t do their homework before hitting copy-paste on this one.

  • Vladislav: These are guidelines issued by the Berkeley Police Department, who, we assume, consider they are useful reminders given the rise in crime over the holiday period.

  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    Right, I understand that you folks didn’t write the guidelines. But isn’t there a point where as editors its worth considering whether you should be republishing fundamentally stupid advice or perhaps that it might be worth asking why the BPD wants people to feel terrified to walk in their own neighborhoods — say might that have anything to do with voters being more willing to fund more cops instead of real social services?

    Because you know, my buddy out in Nigeria would happily send you twenty five million dollars… want to republish his letter here? :-P

  • Longtime resident

    Boy, you sure are a lousy reader. The BPD did not say to ‘never’ walk, only when driving somewhere (the destination). My wife and I are in our seventies, and although we take long walks all the time, we would not dream of walking back home from a movie after dark. Or while carrying packages. Not everyone is an arrogant youngster you know, although Berkeley is indeed quite full of them (who are full of themselves).

  • The Sharkey

    Welcome to Berkeley, DON’T SHOP ALONE!!!

  • 4Eenie

    Two Berkeley police officers had an informal Q&A session at Crixa Cakes a couple of months ago. One of the things they said was that it is shocking and disheartening how many people do not use common sense and fall prey to thieves and thugs. Simple things, like not leaving a package in your car in plain sight, or walking alone in the dark and texting instead of being aware of your surroundings–some people just do not get it. So if an article like this, as stupid as you seem to think it is, can help spread the word, what’s the harm? It’s a good, and apparently much needed, PSA.

  • 4Eenie

    One more thing. Just look at the crime reports. Far too many are of crimes that could easily be prevented if people understood and followed the tips that BPD suggests and Berkeleyside published.

  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    The harm is a profound sense of distrust and insecurity that’s planted without reason in people’s minds. The fact is violent crime nationally is at the lowest point since 1950s, yet people feel profoundly unsafe and insecure across the country, largely due to crazy reporting like this by media across the spectrum.

  • Shannon A.

    So the BPD thinks we shouldn’t shop after dark!? I don’t know whether to be disgusted by what a craptastic job they’re doing if they can’t keep the city safe after dark or to be disgusted by them spreading unnecessary fear and paranoia. Either way: it’s about what I expect under our current Police Chief. (Please don’t send police to my house because you disagree with my comment!)

  • Tizzielish

    I think your objection to this reasonable reminder to pay attention to one’s surroundings after dark, and while walking in the dark, is absurd. It says more about you than about Berkeleyside or BPD that you read “a profound sense of distrust and insecurity” into this public service.

  • Vladislav_Davidzon

    No. My objection was not to the reasonable reminder part of the message, but to the fear mongering of advising people to “park as close as possible” to their destination. That’s stupid advice, plain and simple, especially in a town like Berkeley where so many people intentionally choose not to own cars. The last thing we should be telling people to do is to drive more because “it’s safer”. Are you kidding me?

    The other part of the objection is to the overall tone of the message, which is plain and simple scare mongering. When crime is at the lowest levels in history, there is absolutely no excuse to be telling people that they’re fundamentally unsafe.

  • emraguso

    As someone who was the victim of an attempted mugging outside my place — in basically broad daylight — and also as a former crime reporter, I can tell you that advice that may seem obvious to you just isn’t always obvious, and that people for the most part are not as observant as they could be, and could often take more steps for prevention. How many times have I written about laptops stolen from front seats? About burglaries from homes that were left unlocked? More than I care to count. There are a lot of basic things people can do — that DO NOT equal living in fear or having an unrealistic understanding of crime trends — to make themselves safer. These reminders always, in my opinion, are useful. Especially because planting these seeds might make a difference in those moments that matter most — when people think, oh, it’s just for a second, I don’t need to lock up, or, I can leave my purse for a moment, or, I’m in my neighborhood, I don’t need to look around, etc. Being aware of one’s surroundings and taking appropriate precautions does not equal living in fear. Crazy reporting? It happens all the time… even if the trend is down, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a regular occurrence.

  • hildah

    Vlad, how long have your lived here? Why are you so judgmental. Some people have to drive because they may not live near Transportation or may be too old to ride a bike. This is not scare mongering, we have many seniors that live here in Berkeley and also a lot of foreigners, many of the students, that need some advise. Wether or not crime is at its lowest has absolutely nothing to do with it. No one here seems to care about your objections.

  • hilldah

    BPD are doing a great job. Why don’t you try Oakland.

  • Humbug

    I think it’s good to be reminded of basic good practices. Crime may be low, but it often spikes this time of year. I’m a reasonably sensible person who sometimes makes foolish choices, so I can use the reminders. The advice itself can also be interpreted with a dose of common sense.
    That said, how to keep from being overloaded with packages while not returning constantly to your car? Shop less, I guess, or shop small.

  • foobar

    I love the advice to use a car alarm. I might add, be sure to set it to its most sensitive setting, and park in as dense an area as possible, particularly at nigh. This will make sure that the maximum number of people will be alerted to your car’s possible theft. Or maybe it’s just a cat walking nearby at 2 am. Either way, you can’t be too careful. Your neighbors don’t need their sleep as much as you need your peace of mind about your car.

  • woopwoop

    vlad the impaler.

  • axshat

    i think the berkeley police provides the great support to city people. he need some more cooperation form us.