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Common sense tips can protect shopper

As the shopping rush begins, area residents should pay special attention to the potential dangers the holiday season brings.

Friday, November 26, 1999

As the shopping rush begins, area residents should pay special attention to the potential dangers the holiday season brings.

Incidents of theft in and around shopping centers and malls increase during the holiday shopping season. Following common sense safety rules from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department can help residents get their gifts safely from the store to beneath the tree at home.

- Never leave packages sitting in a vehicle in an area where they are visible to passersby.

– Always park in well lighted areas.

- Always shop with a friend. Shopping alone makes a person an easier target for theft.

- If carrying a purse, keep the flap turned toward the body. Keep zippers and snaps secured and carry the purse close to the body. This actually will discourage pickpockets and purse thieves.

– Never set a package, bag or purse down while shopping.

-  When using a credit card or ATM card, always keep the receipt to protect the account numbers. Shred receipts before disposal.

- After making a trip to the car to load packages, if a shopper is returning to another section of the mall, it is a good idea to move closer to the store or simply change areas. Criminals sometimes watch people leave their vehicles and then break into the trunk and steal the items.

- Before getting into a vehicle that has been parked for several hours, look in the back seat and beneath the vehicle.

– Be aware of your surroundings; check the vehicles near your car. Look for suspicious activity.

– Notice the other people in the parking lot. If they are not looking for a vehicle or walking toward a vehicle, they could be looking for a target.

- Larger malls and shopping centers have security guards. Ask one to assist or walk you to your vehicle.

- Don’t leave any valuable items or items that look like they might have value in plain view in a car. A potential thief does not know the purse left in a car is empty until they already have broken into the vehicle. Cellular phones also are a temptation to a potential thief. Lock any potentially valuable items in the trunk before leaving your vehicle unattended.