How to shop safely during the holidays

By Paul Kerstein

Better hurry, there aren't too many shopping days left before Christmas! But don't lose your mind, and be sure to shop safely. According to this November article on, 'tis the season for shoplifters, muggers and other nasty characters.

Common sense, of course is a big factor while you do your shopping, but there were some tidbits that I never would have thought of in this list provided by former New York Police Department deputy chief and General Manager of AlliedBarton Security Services Lawrence Loesch.

  • Strut while you shop. Thieves and predators look for easy marks such as people who are slouched over, preoccupied or are fumbling with packages. Walk confidently and be alert when you are in crowded malls and parking areas.
  • Don't "shop ’til you drop." Avoid holiday shopping burnout and don't burden yourself with too many packages.
  • Don’t flash large sums of money. Use credit cards whenever possible and never leave your credit card on a store counter. Also, avoid wearing expensive jewelry during holiday shopping excursions.
  • Carry your handbag or purse close to your body with the clasp or flap secured and facing toward you. Never leave your purse on a store counter, on the floor in a restroom or in a dressing room.
  • Shop with friends, whenever possible. There is safety in numbers.
  • Report suspicious people or situations to mall security. Be aware of unusual movements or anyone who gets too close for comfort.
  • Parking lots are targeted locations for the theft of valuables from vehicles. Avoid isolated parking lots and try to park near high pedestrian areas. Also, keep your vehicle doors locked, windows closed and packages hidden. Criminals walk through parking lots looking for easy targets.
  • Avoid becoming an easy mark in the parking lot by being aware of noises and movements and having your keys in your hands, ready to open your vehicle. Be sure to look into the vehicle’s front and rear seat before entering it, and lock your vehicle as soon as you get in.
  • Keep your guard up. If you have car trouble, remain in your car and use a cell phone to call for assistance, or return to the mall and notify security.
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