‘Tis the season for shopping, shopping and more shopping! Even with Black Friday, online stores and Cyber Monday thrown into the mix, the malls are still more crowded at this time of year than at any other.
Elbow to elbow, crowded.
Squeeze past the moms and dads in line for pictures with Santa, crowded.
Wait 30 minutes for a cold cup of coffee in the mall, crowded.
So much noise that you can’t hear the Muzak, crowded.
Unfortunately with the crowds, come a few pickpockets and pocketbook snatchers and package thieves. So, what can you do to cut down on the chances of getting robbed after you’ve slaved at your job to earn the Christmas money? Here are a few easy tips.
- Gals, I know this is a tough one, but if you can…leave the pocketbook at home. If that can’t be worked out, take a pocketbook that can be worn with the strap across your body. Under no circumstances should you carry a pocketbook dangling from your hand while walking through the mall. At the very least, use a shoulder bag and rest the straps on your shoulder while holding onto it securely.
- Guys, don’t put your wallet in your back pocket. That’s a pickpocket’s dream.
- Don’t leave the cash register until you have put your cash and/or credit cards away. People behind you in a rush? Too bad. Give ‘em a big smile and let ‘em wait until you have put the money stuff away and your pocketbook is closed.
- Try to do your shopping during the day – lunch hours are good and the stores are less crowded. If you are shopping after dark, go with a pal.
- If you are buying lots of gifts and need to make trips to the car to unload packages, put them in the trunk. Bags in the backseat are an open invitation for a thief.
- Use the restrooms in the stores where you are shopping (and have bought something). Much safer.
- Stay off the cellphone in the parking lots. You need to stay alert to people that might be following you. If someone is following you, head straight back to the closest mall entrance and report the incident.
- Park as close as possible to the well-lit entrances of the stores. If it’s after dark when you leave, ask a security guard to walk you to your car. Once you’re in the car, lock it right away and leave.
You’re done shopping and you’re home. What should you do to reduce the chances of getting burglarized?
- Don’t put your Christmas tree in the front window for all to see. At least turn off the Christmas lights and close the curtains when you’re not home. Burglars case the neighborhoods this time of year for likely targets.
- If you’re going skiing or to a beach for the holiday, cancel the paper and the mail. Either one of those piling up is a clear signal that nobody is home.
- Contact the police department and let them know you’ll be away on vacation. Many towns have a neighborhood watch program and a patrol officer might check on the house while you’re gone.
- Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges.
- Don’t post information about your trip on Facebook or Twitter or any other Social Media site until after you return. We’d love to see your photos of the trip, not the photos of the missing new TV and the burglarized house.
Above all, use common sense, stay safe, and enjoy the holidays!
*Photo by Patti Phillips