12/20/10 — Last week of holiday shopping: Stay safe

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Last week of holiday shopping: Stay safe

By From staff reports
Published in News on December 20, 2010 1:46 PM

With shoppers entering the last week of the mad dash to find Christmas presents for friends and family, the Goldsboro Police Department and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office are warning residents to continue to stay safe.

This time of year attracts more shopping-related criminal activity because of the larger crowds and the extended store hours. These factors and the usual distraction of shopping creates a more favorable environment for petty thieves and other offenders.

While shopping:

*Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.

*There is strength in numbers. Shop with one or more people.

*Shop during daylight hours, if possible. If you shop a night, park in a well-lit area and be sure to lock your car.

*Have your keys in your hand when as you approach your vehicle.

*When returning to your vehicle, check around it and in the back seat. Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason.

*If you feel uneasy returning to your vehicle alone, find a security guard and ask them to escort you to your car.

*Hide shopping bags and gifts out of sight, like in the trunk.

*Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay with checks or credit cards when possible.

*Be aware of con games this time of year, such as a stranger wanting to share found money.

*Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry your purse close to your body, not by the straps.

*Never leave your purse in the shopping cart. Put your wallet in an inside coat pocket or in front pockets of pants.

*Keep your keys in a jacket or pants pocket. If your purse is stolen, you will still be able to drive.

*Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard if you are separated.

While traveling:

*Get an automatic timer for the lights inside your home, so it looks like someone is home.

*Have a neighbor to watch your home while you are away.

*Stop delivery of your mail and newspaper or have a friend pick them up.

*Contact the police department and request a house check during your trip.

While out for the evening:

*Turn on lights, a radio or television so it looks like someone is home.

*Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave, even if it's just for a few minutes.

*Don't display Christmas gifts where they can be seen from the outside.

While using an ATM:

*Try to plan visits to your ATM during the day, rather than after dark.

*Choose an ATM location that is in a busy public place. Avoid making withdrawals in isolated areas.

*Pre-plan your transaction carefully to minimize the time spent at the machine.

*When you make a withdrawal, quickly place the money in your purse or wallet and leave as soon as your finish your transaction.

*Watch our for suspicious people waiting around an ATM.

Don't let the spirit of giving lull you into giving burglars, muggers and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work. Crooks love the holidays as much as everyone else, but mainly because it's an opportune time for crime.

Follow these safety tips and have a fun, safe holiday season.