Stay vigilant to avoid holiday accidents, theft

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 14, 2018

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STERLING HEIGHTS — The holidays aren’t an excuse to take a vacation from common-sense safety precautions, according to Sterling Heights police and fire officials.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli remarked on how theft can mar the holidays. He noted a recent November case in which his department asked the public on social media to identify a “Grinch.”

The female suspect was seen on surveillance footage taking a package off the doorstep of a Sterling Heights home.

Bastianelli said the suspect also allegedly stole from a porch in Utica, and Utica police were reportedly able to catch a license plate number and link it to a culprit.

The lieutenant had some advice on what residents can do to lessen the odds of a thief stealing their valuables.

“Maybe try to, if it’s possible, arrange a delivery time with the company so (someone) can be home to receive the package,” he said. “If they’re not home, they can arrange for somebody else, maybe a neighbor.”

Sterling Heights Fire Chief Chris Martin said flames are far from the only problem the Fire Department faces this time of year. The roads can also become perilous.

“We see a slight increase in the amount of fires and things like that,” he said. “There’s a lot more traffic around Lakeside Mall. The increase in vehicle accidents and injuries is really more a problem than the fires.”

In addition to the dangers of increased traffic, distractions often cause carelessness, leading to collisions and injuries.

“The hustle and bustle of the holidays makes you forgetful,” Martin said. “Pay attention to everything that is going on. Slow down and take your time doing things.”

In a city video, Martin gave some additional tips to homeowners on how to keep their properties safe from electrical and fiery mishaps while they celebrate the holidays. He encouraged residents to follow the typical tips that apply year-round, such as making a home escape plan and installing and checking smoke detectors.

Anyone buying a live Christmas tree should keep it watered and check for dryness, which can pose a fire hazard.

“Keep in mind, you want to tug on those needles and make sure that the needles aren’t coming out,” Martin said. “That’s an indication that the tree is dry.”

Martin said some Christmas lights are meant for outdoors, while others are designed for indoor use. Frayed or malfunctioning lights shouldn’t be messed with, and candles shouldn’t be lit and left unattended.

“And don’t burn your candle all the way down to the bottom,” he added.

People can contact the Sterling Heights Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800 and the Sterling Heights Fire Department by calling (586) 446-2950.

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