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Police Urge Holiday Safety
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It seems like a simple enough thing to do - but many residents still don't take the added precaution of locking their cars or closing their garage doors.

And, especially at this time of year, that can lead to problems.

"It's the time of year when people are looking for crimes of opportunity," said Escalon Police Chief Jim Shaw. "Don't leave valuables in your car, make sure to lock your doors."

Shaw said because Escalon is a small town and most people know their neighbors, there is the tendency to be lax about security. That will just lead to problems, and local police are asking residents to be proactive and protect themselves and their property.

The advice is simple, said Shaw, but tips that should be heeded by local residents.

Holiday packages should be taken inside, not left in a car. Placing them in a trunk is better than leaving them in the vehicle but taking them out altogether and storing them inside is preferred, officials said.

Also, remember to lock your house and garage doors at night and never leave your purse, laptop, wallet, cell phone or other valuables in a car overnight.

Keep tabs on your mailbox as well; quickly pick up any holiday packages left there so as not to invite theft.

On the fire safety side, remember to turn off your Christmas tree lights at night, keep your tree well-watered so it doesn't dry out and carefully check all strings of lights for potential problems before putting them on homes or trees.

Shaw said while Escalon is "blessed" with a fairly low crime rate in comparison to neighboring communities, criminals will strike wherever the target is easiest. Taking steps to be more aware and more secure can only help, he said.

Meanwhile, Shaw also issued an alert to local residents to be on the lookout for a white van, seen in several local communities over the past couple of weeks, with the driver trying to entice children into the vehicle.

Reports of the white van have come in from Riverbank, Oakdale and, most recently, Manteca.

"If the van is in those communities, it likely has been in Escalon," Shaw said, adding that when he got the 'be on the lookout' from Manteca Police when the van was seen there, he quickly got in touch with the Escalon school district to send out an alert to staff.