The bustle of the holiday shopping season is here and even though Black Friday has come and gone, there’s still lots of shopping left to be done. Consumers are carefully preparing their shopping lists for gift giving and hitting the malls, big box, and online stores to spend their hard-earned money in exchange for smiles from gift recipients.
Criminals, on the other hand, prefer to take what is not theirs, lurking in the shadows and preying on unsuspecting people.
Sheriff Craig Webre issued a public message about the importance of safety and tips to shoppers during the next several weeks. Criminals certainly do not take time off during the holidays. If anything, they are working overtime to see who their next target will be.
In the announcement Webre stated, “While some of us may take some time off during the holidays, criminals do not. We will certainly continue to do our job to keep the community safe. If you remain vigilant of your surroundings, minimize distractions, and use common sense, you can help us protect you and your family from being victimized.”
Here are some useful tips for staying safe this shopping season. It is essential to remain aware of your surroundings, park in well-lit areas, and keep car doors locked while shopping. Try not to carry cash. Use checks or credit cards and bring only what you will be using to make purchases. Carry these items in your front pocket instead of your back pocket or purse.
Do not post on social media where or when you are shopping. Doing so allows predators to know that you are not home. When parking, stay away from large objects such as trees and dumpsters, which are easy hiding spots. Try not to park near larger capacity vehicles like vans or vehicles with dark tinted windows.
Change parking locations each time you store purchases in your vehicle and place bags in the trunk of your car or out of sight on the floorboard with a blanket or other camouflage over items. Although moving parking spots may seem a little over the top, it is well worth it in the event criminals are watching and waiting to strike vehicles with recent purchases put inside.
Do not advertise high-end purchases. Instead, bring nondescriptive bags to put purchases in since criminals will be on the lookout for designer store bags/boxes. Save large items for last so you do not store them in your vehicle while it is unattended.
Stay off your phone when leaving a store. Distracting phone calls will not allow you to remain aware of your surroundings. Wait until you are in your car with the doors locked to check in with loved ones. Another option is to utilize one of many free family locator phone app's, which generally have a one-step “check-in” process.
There is power in numbers so shop with a friend or relative. Thieves are more likely to approach someone who is alone. However, children can be a distraction. It is better to leave them home or with a babysitter. If you are shopping alone, ask a security guard or store liaison to walk you to your vehicle.
The ease and convenience to those who shop online can prove valuable to thieves as well. There are videos all over the Internet of criminals stealing packages from doorsteps. Many times, homeowners are actually home at the time of the criminal act!
To avoid this scenario playing out with your deliveries opt to have your items held for in-store pickup, require a signature upon delivery, utilize real-time tracking of packages, have items delivered to a trusted neighbor, or even your place of employment if possible.
To avoid being a victim of a cyber-crime, be sure to shop at well-known, trusted stores, using secure pay such as PayPal. Otherwise, ensure the website is secure by looking for https:// and not only http://.
You can also look for the padlock symbol in your search bar.
For more valuable tips visit http://www.lpso.net/services/pss/holidaysafetytips/ and remember to stay aware this holiday season!
Posted on Tue, December 5, 2017
by Holly McKeon, Contributing Writer