Along with enjoyment of the holiday season, there is also heightened risk for shoppers as they get ready for their celebrations. Holiday shoppers run the risk of becoming victims of both property and personal crimes, potentially turning this exciting time of year into a disaster. Below are seven safety tips that will lower your risk of being a victim during this wonderful time of year.
1. Use the “buddy system”
Shopping alone instantly makes you more appealing to criminals, particularly when walking in dimly lit or isolated areas. Shop with others to lessen your chance of becoming a victim of a traumatic incident.
2. Park in well-lit areas
Many malls have multi-level parking garages that may require a long walk from your vehicle to an entrance. Often times these garages are not well lit, creating a perfect environment for those who want to harm others. Make an effort to park in a well-lit area, close to an entrance to reduce risk. If the lot is crowded and you must park far away from an entrance, take a moment to scout out the area for any suspicious people nearby. Remember to trust your instincts; if you feel uncomfortable, leave and return later or wait for a closer spot to become available.
3. Do not carry large amounts of cash
With the increased use of credit and debit cards, cash has become less of a necessity. While it may be convenient to have cash on hand, you should refrain from depending solely on cash to shop. Relying on cards allow shoppers to stay away from ATM machines, in turn, reducing the risk of robbery. Also, unlike cash, if credit card theft occurs, the card can be cancelled quickly.
4. Keep valuables close
Conceal your wallet or purse and keep it out of plain view. “Out of sight, out of mind” can be a very strong deterrent to crime. Consolidate all purchased packages to make it appear as if you have less valuables than you actually do. Remember, in the criminal’s eye, more bags equal more valuables; the more valuables you have, the more of a target you become.
5. Keep packages in the car out of plain sight
It is difficult to take advantage of the one-stop-shop technique these days; therefore it is often necessary to shop at multiple locations. Doing this involves leaving valuables in your car while you shop at different stores. Do not leave gifts in plain sight while away from your car. It is best to leave purchased items in the trunk or covered with a blanket so they are not seen from the street. Additionally, during cold weather, many of us are tempted to leave our vehicles running while quickly visiting a store or paying for gas – don’t do this, most auto thefts are a result of motorists leaving their key in the ignition.
6. Protect your home
Thieves are well aware that households contain many valuables, especially during the holidays. However, there is no reason to give them incentive to invade your home. There are a couple things you can do to lower the risk of a burglary:
- Break down packaging of purchased gifts and hide them before curbside disposal. This keeps them out of sight so strangers cannot see exactly what you have in your home at a quick glance.
- Keep gifts out of the line of view from outside your home. Some burglars act as service people and peer into uncovered windows to see what is inside before they make a break-in decision.
- Refrain from “checking-in” and sharing where you are on social media when you are not home. With the speed that information travels these days, posting your whereabouts gives intruders a free pass to break into your home if they are digitally tipped that you are not there.
7. Be smart when shopping online
Online shopping is increasingly popular around the holidays. It is a convenient way to shop while reducing many of the above risks; however, online shopping has certain risks of its own. Make sure when buying products online, you buy from only reputable dealers. Websites starting in “https” (“s” for secure) are typically safe to shop. Ones starting in only “http” may pose a risk. Purchasing from rogue websites may result in money lost on an initial purchase and can lead to credit card number theft or worse, identity theft. If you suspect your digital security has been compromised, contact your credit card company and law enforcement immediately.
Protecting yourself from criminals around the holidays is vitally important. Sadly, we must be on the look-out for those who want to ruin the holiday spirit. Taking the time to practice these seven tips could ultimately be the difference between a safe holiday season and a catastrophic event. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of people are honest, law abiding citizens. We wish you a very safe and wonderful holiday season!