Christmas Shopping Safety – don’t let criminals be your scrooge this holiday season

(RCMP) It’s that time of year again where we all rush off to the local malls with our shopping list in tow to find the perfect Christmas gifts for our loved ones.

The holiday season is a time for fun & festivity so don’t let criminals be your scrooge this holiday season. Here are a few precautions that people can take when they venture out to do their shopping to avoid heartaches & disappointments.

As much as shoppers see the holiday season as an opportunity to find some great deals, pickpockets & thieves also see this as an opportune time.

In order to put a damper on criminal activity, follow these simple rules:

  • Don’t withdraw more money than you need when visiting ATM’s. Thieves lurk in parking lots around financial intitutions. Be aware of your surroundings & take note of anyone following you.
  • Men should carry their wallets in their front pockets as opposed to their back pockets or jackets.
  • Women should carry their purses close to their body but should not wrap their purse straps around themselves. Doing so could cause you to be dragged down to the ground in the event that your purse is snatched.
  • Avoid using revolving doors as thieves with good timing can grab your parcels & get away by the time it takes you to emerge.
  • Never leave your purchases unattended, even for a short period of time.

Parents

Everyone knows that shopping malls become increasingly busy at this time of year. Malls are a flurry of activity with shoppers rushing around, scurrying to find that last perfect gift to place under the tree. Often people become so focused on the task at hand that they can lose track of what they’re children are doing or where they’ve wandered off to.

Parents are reminded to keep an eye on their little ones & to never use a video arcade or a toy store as a baby sitter. Sadly, children are abducted every year, often in malls or department stores. A good idea is to have a plan & ensure that your children understand it in the event that your children become separated from you. Suggest that they go to the nearest cashier to tell them they are lost & to stay there for assistance.

Leaving your children unattended in shopping carts can lead to injuries from children falling or leaping out of the carts. Strapping your child into the cart is a good idea, but please be aware that this may still be hazardous to your children as they may struggle to get out & tip the cart over in the process. Parents should stay with their children & their shopping carts at all times.

Parking

Parking is almost always a problem when it comes to the holiday season. If possible, park under lighting & close to entrances & exits. Under no circumstances should you leave your children unattended in your vehicle, even for a short period of time. Place all of your purchases in your trunk to avoid drawing attention to your vehicle. Know that if you place your purchases in the back seat you may return to your vehicle to find your windows smashed & all of your gifts stolen. If you use a GPS to assist you in getting from one place to another, a good idea is to remove it from plain view as well.

When your day of shopping is over & it’s time to head home, a good practice is to have your keys ready when you approach your vehicle. By doing so you avoid the clumsiness of trying to find your keys & juggling with your shopping bags which delays getting into your vehicle. If you feel uncomfortable about walking to your vehicle alone in the dark, consider asking a security guard to escort you.