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Safety Matters: Take care while shopping during the holidays

Holiday shopping is in full swing and, although many people shop over the Internet, many consumers still complete their Christmas preparations the old-fashioned way, by heading out to the stores.

Unfortunately, while consumers will be out and about, so will criminals, who will be looking for crimes of opportunity. Please be careful and heed the following safety tips:

If you are using cash to purchase your gifts, be smart. Do not carry large sums of cash, as tempting as that might be. Carry your money in your pocket or, better yet, distribute it between several, secure pockets. Never put a large sum of cash where others can see it. Why create temptations?

Do your shopping at malls and stores that you are familiar with, or at least avoid unknown areas, if you intend to shop alone. Avoid out-of-the-way areas, such as long hallways or dark corners, even when you are inside. Locate security office in a mall or store, before you begin your holiday excursion.

Be alert in parking lots. Try to park as close to lights and entrances as possible and remember where you parked. Place your packages in the trunk, instead of in the back seat of your vehicle.

When you walk to your car, be aware of who is near or around you. Always have your keys in hand. Before you enter your vehicle, check around it and underneath it, to make sure that nobody will try to break in or surprise you.

Once you get home, take the packages out of your car and place them in a secure place in the house. Do not leave them in your vehicle overnight and do not place valuables underneath your Christmas tree, until you absolutely have to. Even after the gifts are opened, they should be removed from underneath the tree, to prevent a burglar from shopping at your picture window and checking out all the goods. You can make yourself become less of a target if you think and plan ahead.

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