The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the most busy shopping days of the year, starting early in the morning and finishing late into the evening. Shoppers aren't the only people looking for a "steal of a deal" on "Black Friday", though. Crowded shopping centers and packed parking lots can also add up to an opportunity for thieves.
But, there are some simple things you can do when you're shopping to keep yourself and your new belongings safer:
- Have your keys in hand when you leave the store: This is a good idea all the time, not just when shopping. Standing in a parking lot fumbling around for keys makes an easier opportunity for carjackers or ssomeone who simply wants to steal your bags.
- Never leave your purse, wallet, or other attractive items in your car: Even if you're just making a quick trip, all a thief has to do is break out a window to get his/her hands on your money, credit cards, etc.
- Put all packages in the trunk or out of sight: Nobody wants to carry their packages around the mall all day long, but it's important to make sure nobody can see your packages in your car. So, store them in the trunk. Or, if you don't have a trunk, make sure they're covered so they won't tempt the wandering eyes of a thief.
- Lock all doors and secure all windows: Again, it's a good idea year-round.
- Be aware of your surroundings: It's easy to get distracted when you're in a hurry, but it's important to stay aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for suspicious individuals, especially if you see them in more than one location.
- Always use the ATM at a well-lit, indoor location: Make sure to look around before entering your code, to ensure nobody's watching to try to steal your PIN.
- Keep an eye on your kids: Especially with younger children, it's not a good idea to let them wander the stores alone or go to public restrooms by themselves while you shop.
- Drop off packages at your car: While making sure to keep them out of sight in your car, it's a good idea to drop off some of your bags as you shop. This way, you don't have to worry about keeping an eye on your bags to make sure nobody walks off with one. And, you're not weighed down with different packages, so your hands are free for your personal protection.
- If possible, don't shop alone: Especially at night, the "buddy system" can often keep potential trouble away.
- Tuck away your purse, or put your wallet in your front pockets: Crowded shopping areas are opportunities for purse snatchers or pick-pockets. So, make sure you've got a grip on your purse under your arm. Or, if you carry a wallet, it's a good idea to keep it in a front pocket where you've got a better chance of seeing or feeling someone trying to pick your pockets.
Most of these tips are common sense ideas, but it's important to not allow yourself to get distracted by holiday stress or big crowds as you shop. The Dalton Police Department wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday season.