Crime surges during holiday season

Carmel is hardly the small city crime capital of our fine nation. We trick-or-treat without incident. We leave our doors unlocked. We rarely doubt our Safeway parking lot safety.

Yet perhaps a bit of doubt would prompt precious precaution. Crime certainly does increase around the holidays, prompting wary community members to take preventive steps to avoid falling victim.

Without a doubt, Carmel remains one of the most secure towns in the country, according to numerous informative sites such as Neighborhood Scout.com. The overall crime rate here is 73 percent lower than the national average. For every 100,000 people, there are only 2.46 daily crimes on our lovely peninsula.

Our town is safer than 83 percent of the cities in the United States. Here, we have the slim 1 in 112 chance of becoming a victim of a crime of any kind, and generally the crimes that do occur amount to misdemeanors.

However, as the holiday season approaches, a trend reveals itself: the festive season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but in order to keep the mood merry, people need to steer clear of suspicious Santas and naughty Grinches.

According to Crime in America and the Journal of Criminology and Law, robbery and burglary (and other crimes against property) increase during winter months, although violent crime (crimes against a person) decreases during the same quarter.

This certainly corresponds to the fact that Americans spend, and therefore carry, much more money around during the holiday months. According to an article in the Huffington Post, the average American holiday shopper spent $423 over Black Friday weekend in 2012.

Needless to say, consumers generally walk around with more cash, credit cards and gift cards in their wallets during this time of the year, thus rendering them as prime targets for criminals. Additionally, visions of sugarplums and tinseled feasts dance in their heads, leaving minimal minutes for thoughts of safety.

From the point of view of a potential purse-snatcher, the financial pressure weighs on him to provide holiday gifts for friends and family. He is more likely to succumb to desperate deeds and covetous temptations.

Donna Galletti is the crime prevention specialist at the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office. She listed the most popular places to get your car burglarized other than your driveway: Point Lobos State Reserve and Garland Ranch Regional Park.

“There are people there who will watch you park and walk away from your car, then take what they want while you are gone,” explains Galletti, who further warns that prospective criminals are constantly watching where women place their purses upon leaving their vehicle.

Ari Freedman, a senior at CHS and lifelong resident of Carmel Valley, experienced the misfortune of being robbed: “We came home one day and saw a big hole in our front door…other than that, everything seemed normal.”

Fortunately, minimal damage was done, and only a few possessions were stolen. Still, Freedman admits it was a sobering experience.

“We have certainly become more aware,” he says. “I know what to look for in the future. We are more conscious about leaving valuables out in the open.”

Due to these real issues, attentive residents are actively making their homes and neighborhoods a safer place to live.
Lydia Schroeter, a resident of Carmel-by-the-Sea, has been upping her game to prevent potential crime this holiday season.

“We have installed a house alarm…and now I have paid more attention to what is happening outside the house,” Schroeter says, “for example, who is walking by or driving by and who is working in the neighborhood.”

Though the holidays certainly can be a time of cheer, they can also leave your mistletoe limp. An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. Avoid the Grinches who commit crimes in Carmel.

-Connor Suess