Law Enforcement Provides a List of Holiday Shopping Safety Tips to Keep You Safe
While the holidays give us a chance to enjoy holiday festivities with family and friends, it also poses a greater opportunity for an increase in crime-related activities. Law enforcement statistics show that there is an increase in theft this time of year as more and more people flock to the malls and shopping centers searching for gifts and other needs. Even the least professional thief, who may or may not have an arrest record, knows how to spot a potential theft target in a shopping arena.
Customers who are clued in to what a thief looks for and who practice preventive measures stand the best chance at thwarting off a robbery attempt or possibly other types of harm.
List of Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
Following are some holiday shopping tips provided by law enforcement to help you be more prepared, more aware, and safer during this holiday shopping season:
- If at all possible, do your shopping during daylight hours. Law enforcement experts say that theft and other crimes are less likely to occur during daylight hours.
- Go shopping with a friend or family member. Try to stay together during your entire shopping excursion and try not to get separated. Criminals and thieves are more likely to steal from or attack people who are alone. There is safety in numbers. If you must go shopping alone, be sure to let a family member or friend know where you are at all times.
- Dress comfortably. Avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry. Thieves are more likely to steal what they can see.
- If possible, leave your purse or wallet at home and carry only the necessary items. Carry only your driver’s license or other form of personal I.D., along with any necessary cash and credit cards you need to make purchases.
- Keep your cash in a front pocket, or possibly an inside zipped pocket of a jacket. This is also a secure place to carry your credit cards. It is easier for pickpockets and thieves to steal something from your back pockets.
- If you must carry a purse or wallet, remain extra vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Criminals target unattended purses sitting in shopping carts, both inside the store and as you’re loading your items in your car.
- Always remain alert in regard to the people around you and to your surroundings. If you think someone is watching and/or following you, (or you have reason to believe someone else may be targeted, such as an elderly or disabled person) alert security personnel right away. It is better to be safe than sorry.
- Keep your cellphone in a handy pocket but do not distract yourself, or allow others to distract you, with texting, talking, or other things that interfere with keeping your focus. Talking on your phone while walking to your car opens the door for a thief to grab your cell phone, purse or packages. Carry your cellphone for emergency purposes only.
- Keep a heavy quilt or tarp in your vehicle and use it to cover your newly purchased items, or lock them in your trunk. Locking items in your trunks keeps them out of view. Thieves target cars where items are within plain view and can be easily grabbed. Breaking into a car’s trunk is not easy and will be bypassed by criminals in most cases.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con-artists employ various methods to distract you in attempts to take your money or belongings. While not everyone who approaches you is a thief, it pays to be suspicious and therefore be prepared for the unexpected.
- Don’t post your location status on social media. While this might let friends and family members know where you are, it also lets potential thieves know that you aren’t at your home. This presents the perfect opportunity to break into your home and steal your belongings.
If you should become an unfortunate victim of theft during your holiday shopping, try to remain calm and contact your local law enforcement immediately. If you are inside a mall or departments store, or if the incident occurs in the parking lot, be sure to notify mall security and/or management of the incident.
When talking to management or to the police officer, give an accurate account of the crime, including:
- Give a thorough description the person (or persons) who committed the theft. Try to be as thorough as possible. Give details on their sex, approximate height and weight, skin color, hair color, eye color and clothing. Mention any special features you may have noticed such as scars, tattoos, accents, etc.
- Note what time the crime took place (to the best of your knowledge).
- Explain where you were when it took place, and when you discovered items were missing (if you were not accosted in person).
- Explain the items that were stolen.
The more accurate information you can give, the greater the chances police can find and arrest the criminal(s) and possibly retrieve your things. If items were stolen from you, learn how to search for stolen items in the FBI Stolen Articles File.
If you have any questions about this list of holiday shopping safety tips, or if you have suggestions for the list, please leave a comment below. See also, a list of tips for Halloween safety.