The Most Common Crimes Around the Holidays
With the joy and excitement of the holiday season also comes feelings of stress and irritability. With both the good or bad, these heightened emotions can cause people to act more rashly or take more risks than normal. While we all wish for a season that’s calm and bright, accidents and conflicts do happen, and November and December, we see an uptick in the number of crimes committed before the New Year. Here are some of the most common crimes around the holidays.
Theft and Burglary
Topping the list of crimes during the holidays is theft. While it may be the season to be grateful for the things we have, it’s also a time to celebrate getting new things. More than ever, we’re making big purchases and spending money on new electronics, appliances and other expensive items. This mentality makes delivery trucks full of packages all too appealing to burglars this time of year, while crowded malls make hurried and distracted shoppers easy targets.
The penalties for shoplifting and other types of burglary depend on the value of the items stolen. Even items less than $150 are a summary offense with up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. High-value items of over $2,000 are considered a third-degree felony which can land you 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine; quite possibly costing you much more than the item you actually stole.
Far too often people forget about this very common holiday offense, which may be why every year more and more people are hurt, killed or convicted for DUIs. The holidays are a time of celebrating, so from office parties to cookie exchanges, the number of drunk drivers double during this season. A few sips of eggnog or mulled wine at a holiday party is enough reason to hand over the keys, and let someone else drive. In addition to the risk of hurting yourself and someone else, that drink can result in fines, license suspension, probation, and jail time, which is a sure way to ruin the holiday season for you and your family.
Online shopping continues to increase in popularity each year, and it’s reported that this year’s online holiday sales have already topped $123.73 billion. With so many people trusting their most personal information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank accounts and more, we’re more vulnerable than ever. It’s the unfortunate risk we take in exchange for the convenience of getting all of our holiday shopping complete without ever leaving the couch. And as our uses for technology increase, so do the ways in which hackers can make their move, so it’s no surprise credit card and identity theft could be more prevalent than ever this season.
Credit Card/Identity Theft
And while we speaking of identity theft, it’s important to note that technology isn’t the only cause to blame. Even in crowded malls and shopping centers, scammers are looking for any way to get ahead, including stealing personal information as people open their wallets and pocketbooks to purchase gifts or donate to charity. There are a number of ways in which credit card theft can happen, so shoppers should be alert at all times.
A first offense for identity theft in Pennsylvania can result in as many as 5 years in prison or a $10,000 fine, while the amount of money involved in the crime could increase the severity of the punishment even further.
The best part about online shopping is having your purchases delivered right to your door. So as online ordering increases, so do unattended packages left on porches all over the neighborhood. These deliveries make it all too easy for a specific type of burglar, known as a porch pirate, to steals recently delivered packages before owners can claim them.
If you find yourself on the wrong end of a crime this season, don’t let the accusations or sentence ruin your holiday. Contact our experienced defense lawyers to make sure you have the representation you need to prevent a wrongful conviction or harsh punishments you don’t deserve.