“Statistics show that crime usually increases during and after the holidays season,” reports the National Crime Prevention Council. “And the reason is very simple. More people with more cash, gifts, gift cards, etc. are ‘out and about’ which presents more opportunities for the criminal looking for an easy ‘score.’” These tips, sponsored in part by The Andersons, can help you stay safe while doing your holiday shopping.
- Follow the light
The cover of darkness makes those who wish you harm feel more comfortable committing crimes. Light deters crime by signaling to criminals that there’s a chance of a security camera, police officer or another bystander catching them in the act. Park and walk under streetlights whenever possible, and have your exterior home lights on as you exit your car and enter the house. Even better, get all of your shopping done during daylight hours.
- Take a load off
Don’t buy more at each destination than you can carry to the car with one hand free. In this ‘free’ hand, have your pepper spray poised and ready. Having your keychain pepper spray in hand has the added - and crucial - benefit of saving you from having to dig for your keys once you reach our car. If you can’t carry everything to your car with just one hand, have a store associate or mall security guard walk you to your car.
- Stick together
If you’re shopping with any little ones, let them know a plan of action to set in motion if they ever get separated. For younger children, have them find a store clerk or security guard as quickly as possible. For older kids, you might feel comfortable designating a meeting spot. Tell your little ones that they should find someone to help them, not the other way around. It’s likely a predator will approach a child who looks lost, but not as likely a lost child will choose a predator at random. Read more advice for guardians from Gary Sikorski, a child safety expert.
- Charge it!
Avoid making purchases with cash and use your credit card whenever possible. This way, if someone steals your purse or wallet, you can cancel the card right away and dispute any charges - whereas you might never see stolen cash again.
- Hit the road
Don’t waste any time once you get in your car. Lock the doors first thing, get your packages situated and your little ones buckled, and then head home. Of course, it’s essential to drive slowly and cautiously all winter long.
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