Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

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NATIONAL – The holiday season is an extremely busy time, so it's easy to become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime.

The National Crime Prevention Council says crime spikes in busy shopping areas this time of year, but a few smart tips can keep you from becoming a target. The safety begins before you even leave the house. Below are a number of tips to keep in mind:

* Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home. This way you can notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.

* Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

* Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

* Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. 

* Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.

* Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.

* Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and keep cash in your front pocket.

* Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps. Make more than one trip to the car if necessary.

* Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con-artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

* NEVER leave any packages in your vehicle in plain sight. Always put them in your trunk BEFORE you get to your next destination. For example: If you have a number of packages from one store, put them in your trunk BEFORE you arrive at the next store, restaurant, etc. DON'T put your packages in the trunk AFTER you arrive because someone could be watching.

* NEVER leave any personal items in your vehicle in plain sight. This includes money (even loose change), credit cards, cell phones, purses and GPS Units. Police advise you to remove the GPS unit and if necessary, take it with you. That includes even the suction cup, if that can be removed.

* ALWAYS park in lighted areas. Do NOT park in remote areas.

* NEVER leave doors unlocked or windows open.

* ALWAYS leave yourself extra time. By giving yourself extra time, you'll be able to remind yourself of these basic shopping safety tips.

* If you see anything suspicious, call 911.

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