This is the time of year when crime rates seem to go up, mostly due to the holiday shopping season. It causes would be thieves and vandals to be on high alert, which means you should be on high alert as well. Here are some practical tips to help you stay safe during this busy shopping season:
Use the Buddy System
If you’re going to go out for a marathon shopping session – bring along a friend. By shopping with someone else or as part of a group of several people – you are less of a target than if you are shopping alone. Shopping with someone else also means that you can look out for each other, and it always helps to have an extra pair of eyes – especially when loading packages in the car, walking through a busy shopping mall, or going out into a dark parking lot. Using the buddy system is one step you can take to shop a little safer this year. The old adage there is safety in numbers is true!
There are several practical and easy things you can do to protect your person, too. Wear a small bag or purse that goes across your body, not just hanging on one shoulder. Keep it zipped at all times when you are not taking something out of it. This will make it harder for your purse or wallet to be taken. A big purse is a target for pickpockets – even if there’s not much in it! Don’t post your every move on social Facebook or Twitter. Don’t “check in” at stores on social media – it will almost be like tracking your movements on the business’ social media sites, a target for would be pickpockets. It also lets people know you aren’t at home, which makes your empty house a target, too.
If you are leaving a store or shopping mall at closing, ask a security guard to walk with you to your vehicle. I always try to park as close to the building as I can when shopping alone, and under a street light if I can. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can carry pepper spray. Don’t carry large amounts of money on you, only take what you’ll need for that particular trip, leave other cash or cards at home. Have your keys ready when you leave a store, don’t waste time digging for them at the vehicle.
Protect Your Home
Homes are another hot target during the holiday season – mostly because burglars know that there are expensive items inside and people are usually out and about more than normal. As mentioned before- don’t post a minute by minute plan for your day on social media sites – this alerts people to the fact that you won’t be home. Also, if you are out of town visiting family – consider putting your porch light or other lights in your home on a timer. This will give the appearance of someone being there in the evenings.
Keep your blinds closed when you aren’t at home too. You don’t want to give would be robbers a sneak peak of what all is inside. If you shop online and have packages delivered, try to make sure someone will be home to get them when they are delivered, or arrange for a neighbor to hold them for you until you get home. With package tracking capabilities these days, it is fairly easy to see when something will be delivered. You don’t want your Christmas gifts sitting outside for someone to take them! Also, always make sure your doors and windows are locked when you are gone.
Protect Your Stuff
While it’s just stuff, and it can be replaced, you want to do what you can to protect the things you purchase. If you’re out shopping, put all items you buy in the trunk, not visible in the seats of your car. If it’s feasible, you could even take items home if the trunk gets full so that you are able to hide all purchases well. Lock your vehicle – both doors and windows – when you leave it to go into a store. Insure all gifts that you mail to protect them through delivery. It only costs a couple of extra dollars to protect your packages. Cut up or burn any packaging from expensive items like televisions or other electronics, that way there’s no “giveaway” boxes at the curb to let people know what you bought.
It’s been said before the best defense is a good offense. This is very true when it comes to protecting yourself this holiday season. By being alert and aware of your surroundings can make you safer when you shop, and help to protect you, and the items you purchase. Don’t be afraid to be on the offense to defend yourself!