As the holiday season approaches, Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini offers these tips to help the citizens to have a safe and joyful shopping season.
■ Be alert, aware and cautious know where your belongings are; know where you are going and be aware of your surrounding area.
■ Remain alert at all times especially in crowded areas, one may bump into you while another picks your pocket.
■ If you must take a purse, carry it with the clasp or flap against the front of your body.
■ Never leave your purse in a shopping cart or on a counter while you shop.
■ Be aware of where your purse is when you go into a restaurant or bar, thieves prey on purses hung over the back of a chair or left on the floor or under your chair.
■ Try to avoid taking a large purse.
■ Wallets and check books should be carried in an inside pocket, cash should be carried in a front pocket.
■ Take only cash and credit cards that you will need do not display large sums of cash, be discreet.
■ Never allow yourself to become distracted when opening your purse or wallet to make a purchase or browsing.
■ Plan your stops in advance and inform others of your destination.
■ If possible shop with friends or relatives, there is always safety in numbers.
■ While shopping or anytime you leave home give your house an occupied appearance leave lights on and use timers.
■ Don’t use short cuts through alleys or walkways between buildings, take well lit traveled areas.
■ Never leave your purse or other valuables in your vehicle in plain view, remove these items before reaching your destination.
■ Park in well-lit busy areas, keep windows up and doors locked.
■ Be aware of your surroundings when going to or from your vehicle, criminals will hide between and under vehicles.
■ When using public washrooms avoid placing purses on hooks or door handles, maintain control of your valuables.
■ Carry your keys separate from your identification, in case of a theft the criminal will not have your address and keys.
■ Try to avoid carrying numerous large shopping bags and/or packages, this makes it difficult to secure purses or wallets.
■ Plan ahead, when returning to your vehicle or home have your keys ready in hand.
■ Visually scan the area as you approach your vehicle when returning from shopping and as you approach your home.
■ If your vehicle is in a parking area and something you see or sense doesn’t appear to look or feel right, return to the shopping area call for security and/or call 9-1-1.
■ If the same situation occurs while approaching your home, go to a neighbor’s home and call 9-1-1.
■ Before entering you vehicle check the front and back seat, after entering immediately lock your doors.
■ If you are going to continue to shop place your packages in the trunk and move your vehicle to another area of the parking lot, if potential thieves are watching you they will think you are leaving the area.
BE AWARE OF SCAMS, CONS, AND DIVERSIONS
■ Be aware of scams and cons. Nothing is free and no one is going to give you a large sum of money if you put up a sum of money first.
■ Scam and con-artists are literally going to attempt to pick your pocket or use a ruse to extract money from a person by some out of the ordinary scam, story or staged incident, or play on a victim’s sympathies.
■ Be careful of potential set-ups, once a shoppers attention is diverted, another offender may take the person’s wallet or purse.
■ Be mindful of those who pass you on a crowded bus or bump into you on a sidewalk or entering a revolving door, these individuals may be pickpockets.
■ Keep an eye on credit cards and the paper trail they generate to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
■ Destroy extra copies of credit card receipts.
■ Do not carry personal information in a wallet or purse, this includes a social security number, old credit card, ATM receipts, or seldom used credit cards.