Christmas Shopping Safety
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, Christmas shopping is in full gear. It's that time of year when everyone is involved in the hustle and is heading to the malls and shops to buy Christmas tree, decorations and gifts.
Crime always seems to increase this time of year and with the economy in sad shape it makes it even tougher for some. You just need to take a few extra steps to help keep your Christmas shopping season safer.
Let's discuss a few ways to make sure your Christmas shopping trips are safe and fun. There are things you need to be more keenly aware of during this time, but most, if not all of these, are applicable year round. Share this info with your friends, co-workers, and family. It's always a good idea to be alert to what is going on around you.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When you're planning where to shop or where to park your vehicle look around.
Be aware of people sitting in their vehicles. I'm not talking about the elderly gentleman you can tell is waiting on his elderly wife in front of the drugstore and I'm not saying all people sitting in cars are suspicious, but watch how they act. Why park near them if other options are available?
Be aware of who is walking through the lot. If you can already see that someone is approaching other people in the parking lot, don't put yourself in a situation where they could possibly approach you. Many people panhandle in parking lots often giving hard luck stories and asking for small amounts of cash.
Be aware of secluded areas hidden by trees or shrubs. Don't park in areas where people can hide to wait for you. Find an open spot that's clearly visible.
In the evening hours or night, be sure to park in a well-lit portion of the parking lot. This is not the time to park in the last spot away from the building in a dark corner. People can hide in shadowy areas. Just be aware.
Watching Your Purse or Handbag
One of my biggest pet peeves is women who leave their purse unattended in their shopping cart. Ladies, you're asking for it. Do not ever leave your purse unattended. A thief can grab it and be gone before you even realize it's missing.
Many of the shopping carts in places like groceries stores and Wal-mart have seat belts in their carts. I use that seat belt to put it through the straps of my purse. I still don't leave my purse unattended, but I have that added protection of knowing someone can't just grab it and run.
Another tip for you ladies. If a thief is walking around the store looking for a purse to steal do you think he's more likely to grab the no-name brand brown handbag or $400 Coach handbag? The bag alone will bring him money on the street. What are the odds there is more money and credit cards in the expensive bag than the cheap bag? Thieves also feel more justified in stealing from the rich than stealing from the poor. Consider carrying an old handbag when you go Christmas shopping.
You could also carry a purse with long straps that allow you to wear your purse criss-crossing your body so that it is on you at all times.
I personally don't like carrying money in a pocket or fanny pack, but if you don't mind it, you certainly could cut down on this kind of problem even further by having no purse at all when you go shopping.
Consider Shopping Online
Consider doing some or most of your shopping online.
Several things to consider when shopping online. Make sure you buy from a reputable well-known site. Personally, I like using Paypal for online purchases and Paypal has a list of companies that accept Paypal payments. I bought almost all my daughter's Christmas that way several years ago.
When ordering online, be sure to allow enough time for shipping. Some things take a few days or sometimes weeks. As the time gets closer to Christmas, you will want to watch their ship times. You may be able to pay extra for expedited shipping. If you can avoid the extra cost by a little planning, why not?
Know how the item will be shipped. If you're buying for kids, the last thing you want is for the packages to all be sitting on the porch before you get home with the kids shaking each one. Have them sent to an alternate location or ask that they be picked up.
I'm someone who loves to shop alone. I like keeping my own schedule. I like meandering around the store flitting from one thing to the next without having to explain my logic to anyone else. However, Christmastime is not necessarily the best time to shop alone.
It's probably a good idea to take a friend just because there is safety in numbers.
If you insist on going alone, make sure you do it in short spurts and in daylight hours. Having a cellphone charged and handy is also recommended.
Leaving The Store
Again, when leaving the store or mall, be aware of your surroundings. Think about where you parked before you leave the store. Don't wander around a parking lot looking lost and helpless.
Don't fumble for your keys after you find your car. Have them ready while walking to your car. Assuming you have a key fob, you can hit the panic button to either locate your car or alert others if there is something suspicious going on. If you're looking for your car you might want to just hit the "lock" button twice so that it only honks and flashes your lights rather than setting off the alarm.
Many stores and malls offer escorts to your car. Be wary of someone who approaches you from no where asking to escort you.
Look around your vehicle before unlocking it. Get in and lock your doors immediately. If it looks like you can safely load your packages first then get in, do so. Otherwise, get in and sort your packages after you're safely locked inside your vehicle.
Hiding What You Bought
After you've made all of your purchases be sure to protect what you bought by locking it out of sight. If you have a trunk, use it. If you don't, then conceal your purchases by covering them with something or hiding them under the seat.
Be aware of kids leaving their Ipods and Gameboys laying in the seat. All of these items are hot items to be stolen.
It goes without saying to lock your vehicle. Take a glance inside the vehicle before you walk away to make sure nothing looks tempting to a thief.
Great Links and Resources
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