As a criminal defense attorney located in North Charleston, South Carolina, I know that many people spend the holidays celebrating by exchanging gifts, attending parties, or vacationing and criminals often jump at the opportunity to take advantage of people who have let their guard down. As a result, certain crimes actually become more common during the holidays. In this article, I will discuss the most prevalent criminal offenses during the holiday season.
What are the Most Common Holiday Crimes in South Carolina?
While crimes happen every day, these crimes are more prevalent during the holiday season.
Shoplifting. Retailers like to call the holiday season the Super Bowl of shopping and shoplifters feel the same way. Retail establishments see a major increase in shoplifting and attempted shoplifting during the holiday shopping period, starting with the annual Black Friday sales. While shoplifting has always been a threat to store owners, it has increased in recent years due to the decline in the economy and risings costs of living making it difficult for some people to be able to afford gifts, regardless of the discounts.
Expect to see increased anti-shoplifting procedures taken at retail stores everywhere, including extra security and possibly needing to take an extra minute or so to have your shopping bags checked before leaving a store. The most common items stolen include,
- Electronics and accessories
- Leather clothing
- Winter clothing
- Meat and seafood
- Perfume and cologne
- Children’s toys
Identity theft. The online shopping sphere grows more and more every year, allowing shoppers to get the things they need to be delivered right to their door without leaving the house. Identity thieves come out in droves during the holidays, attempting to sneak their way into computer systems and embed viruses, spyware, and other malicious pieces of software that can steal personal information. Be sure you regularly sweep your computer with a virus and spyware scanner and always be sure the website you plan on purchasing anything from is legitimate and secure.
When shopping online first became an option, many people were wary of online credit card transactions and for good reason. There are many safeguards in place today to provide secure credit card transactions, however, the threat of identity theft and fraud are always present. That being said, online shopping has become very popular due to the ease and convenience it offers. Many consumers opt to use a third-party service such as PayPal or disposable credit card numbers to pay for online purchases. This protects your personal credit card information, reducing the risk of fraud.
Just over half of shoppers (57%) believe a data breach of an online merchant will pose the greatest identity theft threat this holiday season, while 22% consider a data breach of a brick-and-mortar point-of-sale system to be the acutest risk. Data breaches weigh much more heavily on holiday shoppers’ minds than being pickpocketed or robbed (11%) or having their car broken into (10%) when it comes to identity theft. A sign of their growing concerns, 84% of Americans say their willingness to do business with a retailer would be impacted if the retailer has experienced a data breach in the past.
The survey from Generali Global Assistance found that while the vast majority of Americans plan to do holiday shopping this season, most are skeptical that businesses are doing all that they can to protect their personal information. Forty percent of consumers say businesses are not doing all they can, while 38% are unsure if businesses are doing enough to safeguard their information. Those who plan to shop for the holidays expressed concern about their financial or personal information being compromised due to a data breach, with 75% indicating that they are either very or somewhat concerned about such a breach.
It is also important to check your purchase receipts and always check your monthly statements for activity that may indicate fraud or identity theft. Also, limit the number of credit cards used for holiday shopping. Not only will this reduce the risk of fraud for multiple accounts, it will also make it easier to track your spending and manage your holiday budget.
Burglary. During holiday shopping, some people will have their cars burglarized after leaving packages in plain view instead of locking them out in the trunk. Some have their homes burglarized for gifts as it can be tempting for someone who does not have money during the holidays. Seeing a brightly lit Christmas tree inside of a house with a lot of presents piled underneath can be rather tempting.
Charity scams. Don’t fall for scams intended to pull at your heartstrings. It is a human reaction to want to help those in need, especially during the holiday season. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when we see a rise in charity scams. The holiday season is a time for giving, however, you need to make sure your donations are going to those in need, not to those in greed. Do not give personal information including credit card and bank account details in response to unsolicited requests.
DUI. DUIs are common throughout the year but it increases during the holidays. Many people look forward to holiday parties with friends, family, or co-workers, many of which involve alcohol. Unfortunately, this leads to a rise in intoxicated drivers, so you can count on South Carolina law enforcement to step up their patrols and countermeasures to catch these dangerous motorists.
If you plan on drinking at a holiday party, plan ahead. Either travel with a designated driver or get a ride from a taxi or ridesharing service. The price of a cab or Uber ride can hardly be compared to the expenses involved in a DUI charge or a terrible accident. The article from the Post and Courier provides an example,
The wreck that Isle of Palms police officers investigated after dark on New Year’s Day served as a poignant reminder of the possible dangers of driving during the holiday.
A vehicle had flipped over, and all four of its occupants spilled out. Three of them were hurt, and one had life-threatening brain injuries and liver lacerations.
The driver, the only person who wasn’t hurt, smelled of alcohol, the police said in an incident report. Officers said they found an open can of Coors Light nearby.
The pressures of celebrating the holidays sometimes cause tempers to flare, energy levels to soar and arguments to ensue, culminating in an explosion of domestic violence and abuse. Parties, celebrations, and festivities are everywhere and the temptation for excess can be intoxicating. Alcohol, drugs, heightened emotions and the wrong combination of family members, are very often contributing factors to violent holiday explosions. In fact, the holiday season can be an exceptionally tough emotional period for many domestic violence victims, even children.
Being accused of a crime during the holidays, as with any time of the year, is a serious issue and you should have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. If you have been charged with a crime during the holiday season, you will need a solid defense. Call the Deaton Law Firm and allow me to put my experience to work for you.