Sterling Heights police Sgt. Aaron Susalla stands with a police car and Sterling the Elf amid Dodge Park’s holiday decorations. Police are reminding residents to use caution and common sense to have a safe holiday season.

Sterling Heights police Sgt. Aaron Susalla stands with a police car and Sterling the Elf amid Dodge Park’s holiday decorations. Police are reminding residents to use caution and common sense to have a safe holiday season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Police share seasonal shopping safety tips

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 4, 2020

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Local police departments are making a list of safety tips to keep residents’ holiday seasons jolly, without folly.

Sterling Heights police Sgt. Aaron Susalla explained that COVID-19 will bring unusual holiday guidelines to the fore, largely related to shunning the virus.

“Keep your mask on, use your PPEs, (practice) cleanliness, washing your hands, sanitizing and not going places that you don’t have to go to,” he said. “If you don’t have to go out to the stores and you can do your shopping online, that’s what you should do.”

However, Susalla said online shoppers should first verify whether an online store’s website is secure and reputable, and he said they should trust their gut instincts if any red flags emerge. After purchasing online, shoppers should also take steps to avoid becoming a tempting target for porch pirates.

“Track your packages,” he said. “Make sure that they’re not sitting on your porch for a long time. If not, have a trusted neighbor (secure them).”

Susalla added that shoppers who venture out shouldn’t leave gifts or valuables in plain sight while they’re stored in a parked, unattended vehicle.

“As always, keep your doors and windows locked to your house, to your cars, your side garage doors,” he said.

“Don’t leave your vehicle keys in the vehicle when you’re warming up. The colder months are coming. Make sure that you utilize your car starter. And if you don’t have one, you really shouldn’t leave your car running if it’s unattended ... even if it’s for a second.”

Shoppers at the register should make sure that no one is hovering over their shoulder trying to see the keypad as a way to steal credit card information, Susalla said. He urged shoppers to be aware of their surroundings.

“Don’t leave your purse or wallet in a shopping cart when you’re shopping,” he said. “If somebody is stealing or trying to steal your belongings, don’t risk your safety over your personal stuff. Let it go and call the police. It’s not worth getting hurt over.”

Susalla asked people to be kind to everyone around them this holiday season. He also addressed holiday-related alcohol risks, adding that people who consume should do so responsibly.

“Drinking and driving is always a no,” he said. “If you feel like you may or may not have had too much, err on the side of caution and get a ride, get an Uber, spend the night at somebody’s (home). Don’t get behind the wheel.”

In a November Facebook post, the Troy Police Department said it would do extra Black Friday patrols at places where shoppers gather. It reminded shoppers to park where visibility is high, practice situational awareness and have keys in hand. Police added that “no parking space is worth fighting over.”

According to Troy Police Department spokeswoman Sgt. Meghan Lehman, given the circumstances of 2020, it’s especially important for shoppers to keep calm this year.

“When you’re dealing with more crowds and more restrictions with the number of people to be in (stores), just be patient,” she said. “It’s more common for us to deal with confrontations between fighting over a parking space, or people getting impatient with a store employee.”

Police added that shoppers should carry as few bags as possible and keep purses zipped. People who feel unsafe walking to the car in a parking lot should ask a store worker or security guard to escort them.

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800. Find out more about the Troy Police Department by calling (248) 524-3477.

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