Editor's note: The Register's parent company, CNHI, has papers all over the United States. Each Wednesday, this space will be dedicated to what one of those papers thinks about the issues facing their communities.

During this holiday season while many of us are enjoying time with family and friends, days off from work and holiday festivities, the men and women who serve and protect us are hard at work.

In fact, it is their busiest time of year.

Law-enforcement, public-safety and emergency personnel in the county and city simply cannot lock the office doors and go home to be with their families.

Crime, especially domestic violence, increases rather than decreases during this time of year.

Theft, of course, also increases as people do their Christmas shopping.

It generally seems like there is also a higher incidence of heart attack and stroke, and with the colder temperatures, house fires become more common.

We appreciate the often thankless task of all public-safety personnel, especially during the holidays.

We appreciate that they even put themselves in harm's way when necessary, so the rest of us can be safe and sound.

We also appreciate recent safety tips from our police department to help residents protect themselves and their property and gifts during this time of year.

Authorities urge people to use common sense and be aware of their surroundings.

Safety tips include:

• Park "smart" -- do not leave your vehicle unlocked, do not leave valuables in plain sight inside your vehicle and take your purchased items home as soon as possible. Most vehicles broken into are thefts of opportunity.

• Stay alert while shopping (be aware of your surroundings).

• If shopping at night, shop with a companion.

• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card.

• Do not overload yourself with packages.

• If something or someone seems suspicious to you, contact the police.

• Residents should also be cautious when it comes to home and/or business security during the holiday season and year-round. Keep your doors and windows locked. If you have an alarm system, use it. Be aware of your surroundings and if you see something suspicious, report it to the police.

To all the men and women who serve and protect us each day, thank you for your service.

-- Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times

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