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Holiday Shopping Tips
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Christmas Shopping Safety
It’s that time of year!  The holidays are rapidly approaching!  Shop till you drop!  However, the holiday season is a time when people often become careless, lackadaisical to their surroundings and personal safety, and vulnerable to theft, robbery, and assault.  People are often in such a rush purchasing gifts, decorating their homes, visiting friends, and traveling, they become immune to what’s actually happening around them.   People often try to take advantage of stores’ extended hours, and professional thieves know this. 
The following tips are offered to assist you with allowing this most festive time of year to remain, well… festive.  Don’t allow all the gaiety and spirit of the season to temporarily let your innate sense of caution fall by the wayside. 
Keep your personal items in sight at all times: This one seems obvious, but when you have a thousand things on your mind it is easier said than done. Try to be mindful to not leave your handbag, wallet or shopping bags unattended. With the rush of the shopping crowd, you never know what kind of sinister person may be lurking about with bad intentions to steal your stuff.  Keep cash, wallets, credit cards and gift cards in your front pockets, if possible. 
Be mindful of your surroundings at all times:  Choose well-lit and oft-used bathroom facilities.  Go where the majority of the mall patrons go.  ALWAYS accompany children to the bathroom.  If possible, shop with a friend.  The two of you can take turns using the bathroom so that one of you can watch each other’s packages.  Be mindful of individuals who seem to simply be “hanging around” the bathroom.  People with good intentions don’t normally do that.  Use caution at ATMs, especially after normal banking hours.
Stay aware in the parking lot: These days, parking lots are well-lit with security cameras on every other pole. But even if you see a security guard circling the lot every two minutes, it doesn't mean you should throw caution to the wind. When you leave a store or mall, make sure you have your keys in hand ready to open the door. Don't linger with doors or trunks open; make sure you put your packages in, get yourself in and lock the doors and drive away.  Remember this pneumonic:  ELFS:  Enter the car, Lock the doors, Fasten your seatbelt, and Scram!  Try to shop during the day, of possible.  However, just because you are shopping in daylight doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware. These rules apply whether you are shopping at night or during the day.  When in doubt, ask for someone in the store (or mall security, if you’re shopping at a mall) to walk you to your vehicle. 
Avoid “Package Overload”:  This coincides with being mindful of your surroundings.  Overloading yourself with packages ties up your hands and visibility.  It is extremely important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion should you be approached.  Make multiple trips to your vehicle to drop off packages if you are power shopping. 
Use your credit card or write checks when possible:  You are not responsible for any charges you don’t make to your credit card.  Notify your bank immediately if you realize you have a credit card missing or if you see charges on your bill that you didn’t make.  Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  Keep the cash in the bank and use it to pay off the credit card purchases you made while shopping. 
Don’t “advertise”:  Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, watches, clothing, etc…  Thieves look for these “tips” to see that you may be “well off.”  Professional thieves will spot such things quickly and begin to follow you:  Perhaps to your car.  Perhaps even to your home.  Necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc…are all easy pickings for good thieves.  Dress casually and comfortably.  You need not look like a million dollars to go shopping.
Generally, it is a rushed and crazy time of year.  Recognize when you are rushed and stressed out.  These are the times you need to be most aware of what is going on around you.  Keeping these safety tips in mind can help you enjoy what should be one of the most enjoyable times of the year. 
The Salisbury Fire Department would like to take a moment to wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, or any holiday you may celebrate.  Stay safe, and enjoy family, friends, and all the holiday season has to offer. 
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