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Protect yourself during this year’s Holiday shopping trips

Updated on November 16, 2011

Don't become an easy target this shopping season

The continued troubled economy is bringing out the bad any many. It is becoming more common place to hear on the news ever night about an armed robbery, home invasion, or shootout in the middle of the day in even crowded public areas.

It’s no longer just about the neighborhoods, out of desperation normal law abiding citizens are resorting to criminal activity and criminals are moving into the upscale areas targeting those with perceived wealth.

This Holiday shopping season could be one of the worst on record for criminal activity. These are some ideas to protect yourself and your family. Some of these may seem extreme and at a level of paranoia, so just take what you think may help you. The main point is to be alert to what is occurring around you and not to stand out as an easy target.

Try to shop in groups, it’s a hassle to go with a crowd, but larger groups are less of a target. If you have to shop alone consider shopping incognito, meaning leave the fancy jewelry and clothes at home. Dress modest and casual in older clothes. Don’t have any; consider your first shopping trip to a discount store or even to a Good Will to get some older clothes for your holiday shopping. If you own an expensive flashy automobile, drive the older family car, take the kids car or have someone drop you off and pick you up.

For women get rid of the bulky designer purse. Try not to carry a purse at all or one that can be targeted on a grab and run especially those that you hold around your arm where a robber will have pull you to the ground taking it away. Men get rid of the sterling bill clip full of bills and instead both male and female try to condense down to a front pocket carry wallet just for shopping.

Don’t flash the cash or the bulge of credit cards. Consider two wallets or card holders, one for just the driver’s license and one credit card that you plan to use and the other one to hold cash and a spare credit card. If you carry scan type credit cards, line you’re inside of the wallet with tin foil so that as it folds it will cover both sides of the cards. Just this thin sheet of tin foil will prevent would be thieves with pocket scanners from walking by and stealing your credit card information.

Try not to take large shopping bags or boxes out to the car alone. Park as close and in the most walked traffic zones, so that you can follow other people out to get to your car.

As you walk up to your car try to approach it so that you can look around and underneath. If you have children to strap in be careful where you leave your purse.

Many women will unlock the car place the purse in the passenger seat and then go to the back seat to strap the child in. In the meantime a thief carefully opens the passenger door and takes off with the purse. Open both the driver door and the back door then hit your key chain device to lock the rest of the doors. If you have two or more children, walk around open the second door and lock the rest. If you have an older child train them how to put the younger child in and secure them, and then themselves leaving you only needing to take a quick look to be sure they are secure and get moving on out of the parking lot.

This same purse grab scenario is occurring when filling the car up with gas. Thieves walk up the unlocked passenger door open it as mom is distracted at the gas pump and takes off with the purse.

Plan ahead and bring reusable shopping bags with you. Transfer items from the high fashion store bags into the reusable or plain Jane bags. Be sure the car trunk is cleaned out so that you can place all the shopping bags in it without having to stand and rearrange it with your purse and shopping cart open for a run by, if you have an SUV with no trunk take a blanket that matches your interior as close as possible. Place the bags on the floor behind the seats and cover them.

Plan your shopping trips, so the most expensive items can be purchased separately from the rest of the trip, or have the store hold it for you to comeback with someone to pick it up. If the store offers curbside pickup or home delivery consider taken them up on the offer, even if it cost a small delivery fee.

If your mall offers valet parking, consider using it. It will mean curbside service and help with loading your packages. Again consider having someone dependable that will drop you off and then pick you back up at curb side with a cell phone call.

Try to schedule your shopping trips so you don’t drive directly home after a big shopping trip. Many are being robbed in their own driveways or garages by thieves targeting them in the store and then following them home. Instead drive to a restaurant for lunch or another stop off where you can meet up with friends and family to stay for a half hour or so. When you get out look see if there are people lurking back in a car that may have followed you. As you leave that location look to see if they are still around and if and they seem to be following drive to the nearest police station.

At the end of Christmas, think about recycling all the cardboard so it is not left at curb side, if you want to know what your neighbors got for Christmas just drive around on trash day. Thieves are doing the same looking for their next targets.


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    • lizstevens profile image

      lizstevens 6 years ago from Houston Texas

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know Deborah.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Great suggestions for staying safe during the holidays.