It's the most wonderful time of the year — for shoppers and criminals alike.
Police departments and retails centers are ramping up their efforts to keep shoppers safe this holiday season, but there are some things you can do to protect yourself.
Police in the Washington, D.C., area have suggested the following tips:
- Park next to entrances or in open and well-lit areas. If there is up front parking place, this is the time to take advantage of it
- Remove GPS, iPods and any other electronic devices from your windshield and store them out of sight, and remove any evidence (i.e. suction cup marks) from your windshield.
- Keep your keys in hand and walk with a purpose when you return to your vehicle. If you feel uncomfortable, ask a security officer to escort you to your vehicle.
- Prepare to enter the car quickly and drive away. Don't linger. You should also keep the doors locked and windows up until you have exited the parking lot.
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible and know exactly where you parked your car.
- Avoid shopping alone, and avoid shopping until you are exhausted. You are more alert when you are less tired.
- Leave the mall or store well before closing time. This way, there is a better chance you will leave with other people.
- If you're shopping with your children, teach them to go to store employees or security guards if they become lost or separated.
- Put the iPhone, iPad away. Not only do you become distracted by working, talking or texting on them, you also become a potential victim.
- Do not pull your wallet out in public even if you are going to give a holiday donation. Most organizations have a website so you can donate from your home computer.
- If you have expensive items, ask the store to have an employee escort you to your car. Never let strangers help you with your bags.
- Be aware of strangers “accidentally” bumping into you. Pickpockets use this as a diversion.