Millions are in the midst of late shopping for holiday gifts and arrivals at destinations for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends that close out the year.
Law enforcement agencies reminds of dangers that come with both — burglaries, thefts and traffic accidents.
Those holiday gifts for loved ones purchased at area malls and retail outlets or even delivered to doorsteps can easily wind up in the hands of strangers. Citizens can avoid that by not leaving gifts in plain sight.
“Don’t leave your packages in cars,” Comal County Sheriff Mark Reynolds said. “Just like we say every year — be vigilant about your surroundings and don’t try to carry multiple packages out to cars all at once.”
Reynolds said CCSO annually receives calls on thefts of packages from residential doorsteps.
“Be mindful of delivery dates and if you’re not going to be home, call a neighbor to watch out,” he said.
New Braunfels Police Department’s LOCK, TAKE, and HIDE program is a year-round effort that reminds drivers to always LOCK their vehicle, to TAKE their valuables with them when they leave their vehicle, or to at least HIDE them from plain sight.
“These simple steps drastically deter most burglars and significantly reduce the likelihood of you becoming a victim,” said David Ferguson, city communications coordinator. “This is especially true during the holiday shopping season when valuable items are more likely to be left in vehicles.”
On the road
Millions of travelers will be traveling to and from holiday destinations over the next 10 days.
The Texas Department of Public Safety encourages all to end 2021 safely.
Troopers began conducting Christmas and New Year’s holiday traffic enforcement campaigns on Thursday, looking for people who are speeding, not wearing their seat belts, driving while intoxicated or committing other traffic violations.
“It’s always nice to celebrate the holidays with friends and family, but please keep the well-being of other travelers at the forefront of your mind as you head out,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “Troopers will be protecting the public on the roads, but we depend on other drivers to do their part, as well, so everyone can have a safe and happy holiday.”
Texas Highway Patrol will increase enforcement as part of two initiatives: The nationwide Operation CARE (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), which runs through Jan. 2, as well as Operation Holiday, which runs simultaneously Friday through Sunday.
Last year’s holiday enforcement efforts saw 116,810 citations and warnings issued and included 14,499 speeding citations; 1,636 seat belt and child seat violations; 2,625 citations for driving without insurance; and 820 citations and warnings for violations under the “move Over, Slow Down” campaign. Those and other enforcement efforts resulted in 1,185 felony arrests, 615 DWI arrests and 355 fugitives arrested.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s “Drive Sober, No Regrets” campaign this month featured video testimonials from residents who deal with the daily consequences of drunk driving, either as an offender or survivor.
“It is our hope that these moving, first-hand accounts will encourage all of us to make the right choice and not ever drive after drinking or doing anything that can alter our judgment,” TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams said. “We don’t want to turn a happy time of year into one that could be marked by tragic loss caused by someone’s poor decision to drink and drive.”
There were 2,462 DUI-alcohol related traffic crashes in Texas during last year’s month-long campaign that ended Jan. 1, 2021. Those crashes killed 93 people and seriously injured another 215.
Drinking and driving is 100% preventable and can have serious physical, emotional and financial consequences that can last for years. A DWI can hurt or kill someone, devastating the lives of victims and survivors forever. It can also cause significant and expensive legal issues, create difficulty finding or keeping a job and bring a lifetime of regret.
There are many sober ride options available. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, use a rideshare service, stay put, call a friend or family member, or use mass transit to ensure you don’t drive impaired.
NBPD’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) receives state and federal funds to add officers at various times throughout the year.
“NBPD officers will be working hard over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to keep local roads safe,” Ferguson said. “That comes in a variety of forms, from regular traffic patrols to increased enforcement through the STEP grants, which allow us to have extra officers on patrol specifically targeting speeders, drunk drivers, distracted drivers, not wearing seatbelts, along with those who disregard traffic signals at busy intersections.”
Reynolds said CCSO deputies will also be on the lookout on State Highway 46, U.S. 281, Farm-to-Market Roads 2722, Purgatory Road, the FM 306/FM 2673 horseshoe intersection, and other highly-traveled venues.
“We’ll be out in force with our normal patrol shifts,” Reynolds said. “Nothing stops due to the holiday. We just ask that people be careful and take their time because they’ll be a lot more traffic than usual — probably for the next 10 days.
“We’ll be having (deputies) out Christmas Eve and Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. We ask that people be cognizant of the traffic and that they just be careful.”