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Did You Know How to Stay Safe While Shopping?

This is the holiday season when most people will do more than their usual shopping in daunting crowds. Amidst the splendor of the holiday decorations, the festive atmosphere of holiday smells and sounds, and the excessive displays of gifts waiting for buyers, there are possible dangers. The crowds and spending furor bring out some of the worst predators of the human race, the thieves and muggers, who look to take money and bags of purchased gifts from unsuspecting shoppers. Each year tens of thousands of shoppers are mugged, stolen from, and relieved of their gifts and shopping bags. Here are a few tips that can keep you safer and out of harm’s way.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. Most people live in a state of unconscious functionality, thinking about what they need to buy and where they next need to shop. This allows the thieves and muggers to prey on the unsuspecting, as they are functioning in a state of heightened awareness. Keep in the “here and now”, be aware of your surroundings, and look around to see if anyone is suspiciously looking at you.
  2. Keep your shopping bags, and purse or wallet close to you. It seems common sense to keep your money somewhere close to your body, but many people will leave their purse in a shopping basket, or open, and put down their shopping bags full of gifts to look at other items. A couple of seconds of inattention are all a thief needs to pick up your money and gifts and run away with them. Men need to keep their wallet in their breast pocket, and women need to always keep their purse securely tucked under their arm. Shopping bags should be held close to the body and never left unattended.
  3. Shop in a group or with another person. Thieves and predators often work in groups, and much like hunting animals, they will work together to make the heist. One thief may bump into you while the other partner takes your wallet or purse. If you are in a group, then you are much less likely to be bumped or jostled by thieves since the getaway within a group of people will be much more difficult. The old adage “there is safety in groups” applies well in this situation.
  4. Be vigilant in the parking lot. If possible, park close to the stores, close to a security booth, and under lights at night. Since premier parking isn’t always available during the holidays, be extremely vigilant while walking back to your car, and while putting bags into the car. If you are shopping with a friend or in a group, have one person go get the car and the other person hold the bags at a highly visible spot while waiting to be picked up. Often the security guards will be on the sidewalk outside of the stores, so stand near them if possible. Have your keys ready and lock the doors immediately after you get in the car.
  5. Do not talk to strangers. Often the thieves will work in pairs to distract you with questions and by asking for help. While the seemingly nice person is asking you a few questions, their partner is relieving you of your money and goods.  Politely tell the person that you do not have time to answer questions and refer them to a salesperson.
  6. Do not shop with children. Taking children holiday shopping can be tiresome, but it can also be a liability. Thieves look for people with small children as the children often need attention, they may be crying, they want to look at the displays, and so forth. The attentive adult is distracted by the commotion and needs of the children. This situation is an easy “mark” for thieves and predators. Leave the children at home when you are shopping, and just take them to the mall to have their pictures taken with Santa.
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