Tis the season of gift-giving, meaning thousands of us packing into shopping centers.
But not everyone is out with the goal of spreading joy.
So before you hit the stores, make a safety list and check it twice.
Police say criminals are ready to take advantage of your holiday spirit.
Being aware is key beginning with where you park.
“So, Jennifer, you’ve picked the perfect spot. You’re close to the front entrance and even though it’s daylight you’ve parked underneath the light,” Sgt. Gene page says.
Keeping in mind you could be walking into a dark parking lot by yourself.
“So we’re perfectly illuminated. Give us a great sense of security. When we come out we see everything, we’re good and clear,” Page says.
Thieves are less likely to strike in a visible area. Also, remember to keep any valuables out of sight.
Park away from big trucks and cars with darkly tinted windows since someone could be sitting inside watching.
And always lock your doors.
On the way inside, keep watch over your shoulder. And if you can, avoid taking a purse or bulky wallet into the store.
“When you’re inside you got really enclosed environments. There’s a lot of people that can be getting really close to you from behind. So what I tell people to do is to keep your cash in the front pocket, not the back, it’s easier for a professional pick-pocket to pick that up and walk away with it,” Page says.
Instead of a large sum of cash, opt for debit or credit cards. Police can track them down using your records.
“Make sure you have a list of all your credit cards and credit card numbers at home in a safe place so if you were to be a victim we can get those canceled as quickly as possible,” Page says.
When we’re shopping we also want to think about the size of the items we’re putting in our cart?
“We want to make sure we don’t walk out with something so big we can’t see around it or both of our hands are tied up with that. Something that’s this size would take both your hands to carry out,” Page says.
The key is to not overburden yourself.
Take me for example. My hands are more than full and even though I have my keys out as I should, there’s no way I could defend myself from a thief or attacker as I can barely open the door!
So take things to your car from time to time as you shop, especially the big items.
“This is what would give me a little bit of an issue in the parking lot. I can’t see over it, it’s going to take both of my hands so I want to put this in my vehicle first and then I come back in and finish my shopping,” Page says.
There’s one place where you’re bags will be completely safe.
“The place you want to put it? In the trunk. We got a lot of people out here. You can’t see it. It’s out of sight, out of mind,” Page says.
Police say it’s all about awareness and being mindful of your surroundings.
Ask help from employees or security if you feel uncomfortable walking out by yourself and call the police if you see anything suspicious.