Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Holiday Security Precautions

U.S. Embassy Port of Spain

The incidence of burglaries, thefts, and robberies increases during the holiday season. We would like to take this opportunity to remind all U.S. citizens of the need to exercise caution, and to practice heightened personal security during the holidays. Below are some tips to help you reduce your vulnerability to holiday crime.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Trinidad and Tobago is: Police 999, 211 Fire Service 990, Ambulance Service 990 or 811, and Coast Guard 634-4440 and 211 for any emergencies in Tobago. SCIEMS is a private ambulance service and can be reached at 694-2404. The Anti-Crime hotline is 555 or 800-TIPS. The kidnapping hotline is 623-6793.

In Your Home

  • Beware of strangers posing as representatives of charitable organizations, police officers, or other solicitors. They may be casing your house.
  • Never automatically open the door. Always verify the identity of the visitor through the optical viewer, the intercom, or a window from which you cannot be observed. If you know the person, ensure that no strangers are forcing them to have the door opened.
  • Be aware of people loitering on your street or in your neighborhood. They may be conducting surveillance. Call the police if you are suspicious of a loiterer.
  • Make a habit of keeping doors double-locked (dead bolted) even when you are in the house.
  • Get in the habit of setting your alarm, even when you are at home.
  • Don’t place holiday gifts where they can be seen from outside the home.
  • Consider breaking down boxes and turning them inside-out for expensive, easily sold items before placing them on the street for garbage pick-up. Nothing screams “rob me!” like a box for a large flat screen TV or other electronic items.

In Your Car

  • Drive defensively. The number of drunk drivers greatly increases during the holidays.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle – in the seat or in the trunk. Return home to drop off your purchases rather than leave them in the car.
  • Be careful returning home from shopping. A vehicle full of gifts is a target for a follow home robbery.
  • When in crawling or stopped in traffic, try leaving at least a half car length between you and the car ahead to allow space to exit rapidly if necessary.

While Shopping

  • Remember exactly where you parked your car. Make a mental note or write it down if necessary. Wandering around a parking garage or parking lot is an invitation for trouble.
  • Have your keys out and ready as you approach your vehicle. Someone fumbling for keys with an armload of packages is a prime target for a mugging or carjacking.
  • Be alert to your surroundings. If someone is watching you closely, is following you, or is loitering near your vehicle, return to the store or contact the police and request help.
  • If you’re paying cash for your purchases, don’t show any more cash than is necessary. Split up your money into different pockets.
  • Keep just the credit cards you routinely use in your wallet. Keep any unused cards out of your wallet and in a safe place.
  • Monitor credit card bills for fraudulent charges.

If You’re Going to Be Away for the Holidays

  • Be careful of disclosing travel plans to domestic employees or service providers.
  • Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check on your house occasionally, making sure your house keeps a “somebody’s at home” look.

The American Citizens Services Unit recommends that you to register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at Once registered, as a U.S. citizen residing outside of the United States, you can:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency