NewsCrime and Courts


Staying safe during the holiday season

Police Car
Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 11:34:49-05

GREAT FALLS — With holiday shopping, Christmas trees with presents, and festive parties, it is important to be prepared for an uptick in criminal activity.

“They’re crimes of opportunity,” Lieutenant Doug Mahlum of the Great Falls Police Department said, “…houses are left unlocked, and there’s Christmas presents under the tree, vehicles with people who are out shopping…and then we do get the home deliveries. We do get those frequently where people are stealing packages off of the front steps.”

The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to keep doors locked and items hidden away from windows. The police also suggest working together with neighbors around you to keep packages safe and authorities up to date should they need to be contacted.

“We want people to know who their neighbors are,” Mahlum said, “And, you know, it takes it takes a village to be safe in your small neighborhood, and make sure that they know where you're at or what's going on.

It is also important to be aware of crimes you could be charged for as well without taking proper precautions, like driving under the influence.

“It's best to have the driving situation handled before you ever, ever have that first drink,” Mahlum said, “Whether you have a designated driver with your group or you utilize any of the taxis or Uber or whatever it might be, take care of that beforehand. Know that you're going to do that, but then go out and have a good time.”

During the holidays, families are gathered for extended periods of time, which can be dangerous if someone is living with an abuser. Combine that with alcohol, and the holidays becomes a perfect storm for domestic violence.

“At the holidays, we do see an uptick in very violent domestic violence,” Mahlum said, “I mean, it's often a tough time to be a police officer, and some of the things that we see, I mean, we have to associate Christmas with positive times with our own families, and yet we're taking calls to some pretty violent crime.”

Lieutenant Mahlum suggests avoiding heated altercations altogether, or being the bigger person and removing yourself from the situation before things get bad. As a general rule, the police suggest you alert the authorities if you see something suspicious in order to keep everyone safe this holiday season.