Every single day since the moon rose over Black Friday shoppers, I’ve read story after sad story about thefts, assaults, robberies, and other Grinch-like criminal activity. We all know they’re out there, the holiday shoplifters, stocking-grabbers, and skedaddling purse-snatchers. Yet, it happens time and time again…shoppers let down their guard. They don’t think. They’re not careful. They ASSUME it won’t happen to them.
Well, if I may be so bold, let me say, yes, it could happen to you, and you, and…HEY! You over there…PAY ATTENTION! You’d be the first person blogging tomorrow morning about the creep who swiped your brand new waffle maker and jumbo holiday pack of various processed meat logs and cheese-flavored spreads.
Here are a few holiday shopping safety tips to consider while you’re out and about. By the way…I need socks, more books, tools, and one of those new waffle makers, if you can manage to hang on to it. Hint, hint…
10 Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
1. Shop during daylight hours. if possible.
2. Shop with a friend or family member(s). Not alone.
3. If you must shop at night, park in well-lit areas, and as close to the store as possible.
4. Don’t leave valuables, or anything that looks valuable, in sight. Place them inside the glove compartment, console, trunk, or in the back of the SUV, covered with a blanket.
5. Check your surroundings before getting out of the car. Wait for strangers to pass before unlocking the car door. Bad guys troll parking lots!
6. Don’t carry large purses or bags. Instead, take only the items you need—driver’s license, the least amount of cash needed, and a credit card. Place those items in your FRONT pocket. If you absolutely cannot leave home without the suitcase-size bag, then carry it over your shoulder. At least it’s a bit more difficult to steal when carried that way.
Clean out your wallet! Do not carry 47 credit cards, directions to house, your pin numbers and alarm code, your computer passwords, pictures of your house, spouse, and kids, divorce papers, and keys to your safety deposit box. Necessary items only.
By the way, never use your actual home address as the “home” location on your GPS. Instead, pick an address that’s a few blocks away. Hopefully, you’re not so dependent on the gizmo that you’d be able to find your way home from there. By using a different address other than your own—if your car is stolen—the thief won’t drive straight to your house where he’d conveniently use the garage remote to gain access to your goodies.
7. When you get that uneasy feeling about anything in the parking lot, go back inside the store. Do not attempt to go to your car. Sure, you might make it there safely, and you can lock your doors…but glass breaks easily. Go back to the store and ask a security guard to escort you to your vehicle.
8. When placing packages inside your car, always place them in the trunk (or covered in the rear of the SUV). And, at that time, it’s a good idea to move the car to a parking space in another area of the mall. That way potential thieves who’ve been watching and waiting will think you’ve left and will move on.
9. Watch out for false charities. Just because someone is ringing a bell doesn’t mean they’re legitimate. If you don’t trust the person with their hand out, but you’d like to help out in some way, you could always mail in your contribution. Remember, the bad guys are waiting for you to open your purse so they can grab the cash and run.
10. Pay attention! Pay attention! Pay attention! Have your keys ready and in hand when heading across the parking lot. Do not go to your car if you see someone standing nearby , or, if you sense someone following you. Look inside the car before getting in—front and back. Be sure no one is hiding on the other side of the car before opening your door.
You know, shopping just isn’t what it used to be, with lively holiday music playing in the background, smiling faces all around, and spiked eggnog on the breath of the mall Santa. Instead, we nearly have to suit up in Kevlar, carry a five gallon bucket filled with pepper spray, arm ourselves with stun guns and Tasers, and strap on a pair of matching pistols in case holiday robbers insist upon making us empty our pockets. Me, well, I do my gift-buying online. It’s safer that way, and that’s a shame. A real shame.