Important Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
Follow these important holiday shopping safety tips below to help reduce your chances of becoming the victim of a crime of opportunity like car burglary.
Crime prevention: preparation is the best defense
“As in any situation, preparation is key,” says Officer Roger D. Martin of the Beachwood Police Department in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. “You never know what can happen, and taking some time up front to prepare can help prevent you from becoming the victim of a car burglary or another crime.”
To increase car safety, especially during the busy holiday shopping season, Martin recommends you plan ahead.
Don’t tempt the car burglar
MP3 players, iPods, cell phones, laptop computers, GPS systems, satellite radios and other small electronic devices are a car burglar’s dream. Small and easy to conceal, these are the types of items most often stolen from a car. Sitting in plain sight, they attract a thief’s attention.
Know when and where you intend to do your holiday gift shopping, and don’t leave personal valuables in your car. They will tempt a car burglar. Instead, plan ahead and leave them at home. If you absolutely must leave any valuables in your car while holiday shopping, stash them out of sight. Place them in the trunk, stow them under a seat or cover them with a blanket. Always lock your car, close the windows and shut your sunroof, too.
When possible, shop during daylight hours and park in a well-lit, highly trafficked area of the mall parking lot. If possible, shop with at least one other adult.
Don’t holiday shop while distracted
Just like you shouldn’t drive while distracted, you shouldn’t do your holiday gift shopping when you are distracted. Leave yourself plenty of time to shop for the holidays, and you can minimize distractions.
According to Martin, holiday shoppers make perfect targets for car burglars and other thieves. Whether they’re distracted by children, in a hurry to get home or carrying packages to the car while chatting on a cell phone or digging for keys, these shoppers are typically unaware of their surroundings and potentially unsafe situations. He recommends you find a good babysitter to watch your children while you shop for holiday gifts, and go on a day when you won’t have to rush.
Prevent crime: report suspicious behavior
Report any activity that seems suspicious.
“Nothing says you have to be confronted to be suspicious,” says Martin. “If something you see or hear makes you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, it’s probably because it should.”
Depending on the level of threat, Martin recommends calling mall security or your local police department if you witness any suspicious or criminal activity while doing your holiday gift shopping.
“Time is of the essence,” says Martin. “If you need immediate response, or anticipate personal safety could be a legitimate concern, call 911 immediately. And never, ever attempt to investigate a suspicious activity on your own.”
Police officers are usually best equipped to deal with dangerous situations, according to Martin. However, he adds that mall security is a good first line of defense. Contacting them if you witness odd behavior – like someone wiggling the door handles on a vehicle – can help prevent potential crimes like car burglaries and auto theft.
Invest in crime prevention: buy an anti-theft device
Martin also recommends another crime prevention tip: Invest in an anti-theft device.
Steering-wheel-locking products like The Club® vehicle
anti-theft device can help deter a car thief. A good car alarm can help
protect you from a car burglary, and possibly qualify you for a
car-insurance discount. Other types of car safety and security systems,
like LoJack®, can help you recover your vehicle and any
contents if it is stolen.