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Holiday Shopping Safety

Holiday Shopping Safety

With the busy holiday season fast approaching, many people are getting ready to do some serious shopping.  It is important to remember during this hectic time to be vigilant about safety. Awareness is the key to avoid becoming a victim!  During this season, shoppers are often pre-occupied making them easier targets of crime. There are many people out shopping at all times, so those that prey on the unsuspecting have a broader range of potential victims.  To make this a safe holiday season, here are some safety tips:

• Shopping during the daytime is usually safer.  Park in well-lit areas and try to shop with a family member or friend.  There is strength in numbers
• Wear comfortable clothes and do not wear expensive jewelry.   
• Leave your purse or wallet at home.  Carry your cash or credit card in your front pocket or distribute it into more than one pocket.  A thief will move on to an easier victim if you make it hard for them to get your valuables. 
•There is no safe way to carry a purse. If you strap it around your neck cross body or just have it hanging on your shoulder, a thief, who grabs hold of it may pull you down with it, exposing the victim to injury.  Remember, even though you know there is very little value in your purse, the thief sees a bag of opportunity.
• Do not carry and expose large amounts of cash.  Use your credit card or a check for any purchases.  While at the cashier, take a moment to look around and see if anyone is watching you.
• Do not get distracted by carrying too many packages at once.  Take more than one trip to the store or drop some in your car and go back for more.  Leave packages in your trunk, out of sight, and not on the front or backseat.  Always lock your car doors and make sure the windows are rolled up. 
• Keep a close eye on your children. If you must bring them shopping, make sure they stay with you at all times.  Constantly be aware of your surroundings.  Look at who is around you and beware of strangers who approach you.
•When leaving a store or the mall, scan the parking lot as well as around yourself to  
see if there are any potential threats.  If you feel uncomfortable (intuition), contact  
Security, a store employee, the local Police or ask other shoppers to walk with you out
to your car.  Have your keys ready.
•For the safety of others, if you feel that you avoided a possible threat or crime 
because you were aware of your surroundings, call the Police and let them know what
you saw.
•Remember, when you call “911” on your cellphone, you will get the State Police, 
will ask you what city or town you are calling about and then will transfer you there.

Holiday shopping is not always done in the stores: it is becoming increasingly popular online.  It is important to be as safe online as you would anywhere else.  Make sure that you find the company’s privacy policy and that the server is secure before you give out your personal and financial information.  Read over all return and refund policies before buying and make sure to print out copies of all purchases for your own records.  Paying by credit card is the best option for consumers because it offers the most customer protection. 

Whether you are shopping online or in the stores this year, remember to protect yourself.  Just keep these simple tips in mind and have a safe and enjoyable holiday shopping season. Happy Holidays!

Lieutenant Dan Minton