11/30/04 — Tips for safe holiday shopping

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Tips for safe holiday shopping

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on November 30, 2004 2:00 PM

With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, Goldsboro police are warning people not to leave valuables, including gifts, in view in their vehicles.

Police Maj. M.D. Hopper said too many people leave their purses on car seats and return to find their car window smashed and the purses opened.

"They will tell us that there was no money in the purse," Hopper said, "but the thief doesn't know that."

The major urged shoppers, empty or not, to put them in the trunk or under the seat.

"That will save you the cost of a new window," Hopper said, saving the shopper hundreds of dollars.

"We want people to be safe when they are shopping," he said. "When people are out spending money, the criminal element will be trying to take it away from them."

Hopper said police will increase patrols around retail areas and shopping centers. He also urged shoppers to lock their cars, take their keys and put presents in the trunk.

"Don't leave anything of valuable visible in the car," he said.

Among other tips, Hopper said, were these:

*Park in lighted areas at night.

*Women should shop in pairs.

*Note your surroundings and if you see suspicious activity, drive somewhere else and report it.

*Have your key ready when you return to the car.

Police should not leave their cars running when they stop to pay for gas or other items at a convenience store.

One driver picked up a woman, police said, and stopped at a store to buy beer, cigarettes and snacks. He left the woman in the car with the engine running. He came back in a few moments and found the woman and the car missing.

Those attending holiday parties also were reminded by authorities to have a designated driver, if alcohol is served. The driver should be designated before the party and should remain alcohol-free. No one should ride with an intoxicated driver. If necessary, police said, take the keys from an impaired driver and call a cab.

Police also reminded residents to remove hazards from the home. If candles are burned, keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Decorations with sharp edges should be kept out of the reach of toddlers. Holly and mistletoe berries also are poisonous, and poinsettias can cause skin and stomach problems.

Pets also can become sick or even die by eating the wrong things, police said. Chocolate, poinsettias and Jerusalem cherry plants can be fatal for dogs and cats. Animals also can choke on toothpicks, bottle caps, corks, toys, tree decorations, plastic wrap, aluminum foil and dental floss. Garbage bags also should be secured tightly to keep pets from meat, leftover bones or roasting twine.