Thieves Target Holiday Shoppers

Friday, 12 Dec 2008 09:39 AM

By Bruce Mandelblit

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Christmas is prime time for crooks. With about two weeks left in the 2008 holiday shopping season, here are a few ideas suggested by some crime prevention specialists that may boost your shopping security:

  • Carry only the credit cards, cash and checks you will need for your shopping. In general, it is best to avoid carrying large amounts of cash — use credit cards or checks, if possible, to make your purchases.

  • If your credit card is stolen, misused or lost, be sure to notify your credit card issuer immediately. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep a complete inventory of your credit cards at home, along with their toll-free numbers, just in case of these types of mishaps.

  • If you need to use an ATM while shopping, remember to use one located inside a busy, well-lit location and to withdraw only the amount of cash you actually need. Also, protect your PIN (personal identification number) by shielding the ATM keypad from any person who may be standing near you (and do not give out your PIN to anyone), and don’t throw way your ATM receipt at the ATM location. And remember, don’t “flash your cash.”

  • Don’t carry a purse or wallet, if possible, as they are the prime targets of thugs, even in crowded shopping areas.

  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

  • Carry cash and your credit cards in your front pocket. If you carry a shoulder bag, it’s best to carry it in front of you.

  • Stay alert at all times — be aware of your surroundings. Law enforcement calls this concept “situational awareness.” Remember, crooks will be more likely to confront you if they think you are distracted.

  • If you have a mobile phone, be sure to carry it on your person while shopping for added security. If you don’t have a mobile phone, you might consider getting one as a holiday gift — for yourself.

  • Avoid driving alone or at night, and travel on busy, well-lit roads. Keep your doors and windows closed while in or out of your vehicle. Park was close as you can to your shopping and remember where you have parked. Don’t approach your vehicle alone if you observe suspicious people in the vicinity. And never leave your vehicle unoccupied with the engine running or with children inside!

    A Quick Security Tip: Many malls and shopping centers would be happy to supply a security escort to your car upon request.

  • Don’t overload yourself with all those packages of holiday goodies. It vital to have clear visibility to avoid accidents and observe suspicious people. Cover them in the car with a sheet or blanket. Don’t create a temptation for criminals.

  • Beware of suspicious people approaching you.

    For more information on having a safe holiday as well as year-round crime prevention tips, contact your local police department.

    Copyright 2008 by Bruce Mandelblit

    Bruce ( is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.

    © 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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