Christmastime is a busy season for everyone including criminals. Many are caught up in the particulars of their holiday preparations and shopping. Consumers are running from place to place with large amounts of cash in their wallets and loaded down with packages more so at this time of year than any other. Sorry to say crooks will also be out looking for their next victim. The holiday season is not the time to let your guard down. Being the unfortunate prey of crime can quickly wreck your holiday mood.
The FBI reports that criminal activity increases during December. Crimes such as burglaries, muggings, car thefts, robberies, pick pocketing, credit card scams, etc. Remember to be vigilantly follow all the safety measures you normal do when it’s not the holiday season. Criminals will be on the look out for someone they can catch off guard.
The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the shopping season for the holidays. As you begin that holiday shopping, you might want some advice on how to avoid becoming an easy mark for criminals. Remember this advice is helpful year round as well.
PARKING LOT SAFETY
Staying safe while shopping for the holiday can be a bit trying at times. This is because there are fewer daylight hours in the daytime. Shoppers often arrive at that mall while it is yet day only to find it has gotten dark outside when they leave. Often they don’t think about that and aren’t very picky about where they park.
Because parking lots fill up quickly this time of year, it might be harder to find a good parking spot. Look for one that has plenty of light and lots of pedestrian traffic around. Avoid parking in remote areas if at all possible and don’t forget to lock your vehicle when you leave. Become familiar with the area where you parked. Take a mental note of the row and number so you can easily find your car when you return.
Take a friend along when you go shopping. Using the buddy system reduces your chances of being mugged or attacked. If you are shopping alone, consider walking near other shoppers in the parking lot. Walk in well-lit areas and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid areas where people are loitering. Walk with a purpose and authority in your stride.
SHOPPING MALL SAFETY TIPS
While you are inside the mall don’t go near dark hallways or backroom areas, especially at closing time. Don’t use a bathroom facility that is located in a back passageway. It is best to use one near the food court or other high traffic area of the mall.
Be constantly guarded and vigilant as you move through crowds. Watch out for any unfamiliar person who bumps, pushes or gets too close. These may be a tactic designed to draw your attention away from pickpockets trying to take your wallet. Be sure to keep a close watch on your shopping bags and other personal effects as well. Always keep your purse close by. Never leave it unattended in the shopping cart. Don’t carry your wallet, credit cards or cash in the back pocket of your pants or in your backpack. These are places pickpockets find it easy to get at without being noticed. Keep them in your front pockets instead.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash with you. Try to make your purchases using a personal check, credit card, or ATM card if you can. At the times when you do pay using cash, pull out only what you need. Keep the rest of your cash hidden away so bystanders can see how much you are carrying. Regardless of the time of year, it is never a good idea to carry large amounts of cash with you. Try to save your most costly purchases for last, so you can head straight home afterward.
Try not to overload yourself with packages when it is time to return to your car. Combine smaller ones with one or two larger packages, or make several trips to your car. If you are overburdened, you won’t be able to see who may be approaching and it could prevent you from quickly responding to a threat.
Have your car keys in hand to avoid “searching” for them when you reach your car. As you approach your car, do not use the auto unlock mode on your key fob from too far a distance. By doing this, the flashing lights on the vehicle are advertising to a would-be assailant which vehicle is yours. He could race ahead and then be waiting for you at the car. Instead, wait until just before you get to there, check to make sure you are not being followed, then unlock the doors. When you reach your car it is a good idea to scan the interior BEFORE getting in to make sure no one is hiding inside.
It is a good idea to place your packages inside your trunk so they are out of sight. Never leave them in plain view where someone would be tempted to smash your windows and steal your packages while you are away from your car.
When you get into your vehicle lock your doors immediately and drive off. Don’t wait around sitting there to check off your shopping list, jot purchases down in your checkbook ledger or whatever it is that may cause you to delay your departure. This creates the perfect opportunity for an attacker to approach you and force his way into your car, especially if you didn’t lock the doors.
Another precaution you may to consider using is to carry a personal alarm. This small device is perfect for drawing attention to yourself if you should ever need to. It is easily carried on your wrist or key chain. When activated it will emit a loud annoying sound designed to get noticed by others. An attacker won’t this and will leave you alone.
Following the safety advice outlined above will help your holiday to be a merry one.