The holidays are upon us and retail stores are packed with festive shoppers who are spending lots of money. Be careful though, because criminals always want to crash that party! Here are some safety tips to keep in mind during this 2017 holiday season:
Pay Attention to the Warning Signs
If you sense something suspicious and you get that bad feeling in your gut, it’s not the eggnog talking. It’s your instincts telling you to act. If you have a bad feeling about someone, then create some distance between you and that person. If you feel like you are being followed, get to a well-lit and populated area and call for help. Make sure you take good mental notes on the description of the person (and license plate if driving).
Visualize How You'd Act
When holiday shopping, you can shop with more confidence and efficiency when you start by thinking about what the other person would want and like. Well, the same goes for your personal safety. When you stop to think about how a criminal targets his victims, you are mentally and physically preparing to act in any potentially dangerous situation. Before you embark on your holiday shopping or event, outline a plan to prevent yourself from being a target.
MAKE HOLIDAY SHOPPING A SPORT
Go holiday shopping with friends – it’s a social sport! Walking in pairs or a group will help deter a criminal. You can also have your spouse tag along to help carry the bags. They will love that! And you can even help each other pick out those hard-to-find gifts!
HAVE A PLAN FOR LITTLE SHOPPERS
Like the old song goes “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks… It’s Christmas time in the city.” Sounds magical, until a child gets lost or hurt in the mayhem. Tell your children to find a security guard or store clerk if they get lost. As a last resort, another person with children, may also be safe to approach. Turn it into a game to help them practice while you are out shopping. Ask your kids to point when they see a security guard or who would be safe and not safe to ask for help.
WATCH OUT FOR DISTRACTED DRIVERS AND PEDESTRIANS
Watch out for small kids and distracted drivers in parking lots that are busier than usual during the holidays. While you are driving, no text message or playlist is worth the risk of taking your eyes off the road. You can also set your GPS to voice activated so you can concentrate on driving without having to look at your phone.
You know that satisfaction you feel when you carry your whole load of holiday purchases to the car or into the house in one trip? Well, this makes you the perfect target for criminals. While you are busy trying to make it to the door without dropping anything, a criminal can sneak up on you unsuspectingly. They may even offer to help you with your bags to distract you. Make yourself a hard target by walking with alertness and purpose. Have your keys ready and accessible to open the door quickly.
Secure & Hide Your Gifts
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for thieves! They are just as excited as you are to bring home all of the cool stuff you bought. Before driving to your next destination, hide your shopping bags in the trunk or out of sight, like under a pile of clothes. Thieves are watching for people who stash their valuables after they arrive at their next stop. It only takes a minute for a thief to break in and steal all your stocking stuffers.
Dismiss the Scammers
Giving to the needy during the holidays is important and admirable. But giving to a phony charity is distressing and deflating. If you are approached about a donation, ask to see literature before making a decision. If someone comes to your door, make sure you see their credentials before opening your home to them. Any reputable charity will gladly provide this proof. If you are unsure or don’t feel safe, do not open the door!
These tips are critical for the busy and chaotic holiday season, but they shouldn’t be forgotten as the festivities end. Season’s greetings and happy holidays from the Safeway Security Services family!