Crime

Six things to remember when holiday shopping so you don’t get ripped off

When you shop during the holidays, it’s best not to carry a purse as thieves can quickly grab it. Better to carry your money in a pocket or front-sided fanny pack.
When you shop during the holidays, it’s best not to carry a purse as thieves can quickly grab it. Better to carry your money in a pocket or front-sided fanny pack. AP

These are the final days of the holiday shopping and everyone is running around getting those last-minute gifts. Please, let’s remember to be vigilant at all times. Criminals know you are on the “run,” your head is filled with millions of thoughts and they are counting on you to be “scattered in the brain.”

But don’t give them the opportunity to come after you while you shop!

So let’s review a couple of things for this week:

1. Don’t carry a purse – Keep cash or credit card in pocket, and don’t carry lots of cash.

2. Try not to go shopping with your kids – They can distract you while you shop.

3. Don’t leave bags in your car or trunk – Move your car to another parking space if you are going to continue shopping.

4. Pay attention to where you parked your car – Have keys in hand ready to leave.

5. Pay attention to make sure no one is following you – Remember criminals may be taking pictures inside the store of what you bought with their cell phones to send to someone outside the store.

6. Going to an ATM – Go with someone, if possible. If not, keep the car door locked and when you return to your car, lock it immediately. Don’t count cash for everyone to see.

If you are hosting a party, pay attention to your guests and how much they are drinking. Don’t let them drive. Take the keys or have someone drive them home. Make sure your guest didn’t leave his or her car unlocked, and make sure they didn’t leave their purses in the car. Criminals like to roam neighborhoods looking for parties to break into the cars. This happens every year, so protect your guest.

As I have mentioned before, make sure you destroy the boxes that contain big items, i.e., TV or electronics. Place them in large garbage bags so that criminals can’t see what you got as a gift. You don’t want them to return to break in to your house.

If you are going out of town for the holidays, contact your local police department to place a watch order on your house. Give them detailed information on whether anyone is going to be checking your house, feeding your pets.

Have a neighbor pick up your mail and paper. If you don’t have a neighbor who can do this, make sure you stop the deliveries. Don’t leave your garbage can out in the driveway. Contact your alarm company and advise them if anyone will be entering the home in your absence. Make sure that person has the password in case the alarm goes off.

Let’s enjoy our last week of the holidays without any incidents or tragedies. If you have any concerns, call your local police department as they will be able to assist you with any questions.

Happy Holidays to all and may you have a blessed day with your families.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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