The holidays are now upon us. This is the time of season where families often gather together, people are out and about shopping for gifts, the malls and grocery stores are packed, and the excitement swells. This is also the time of year when thieves try to take advantage and look for opportunities to strike and make your holidays miserable. I’ve been a victim in the past. It was as quick as someone running past me in the mall and snatching my packages out of my hands that I just purchased.
Now more than ever is the time to be conscious of your surroundings and protective of your wares. Whether you are traveling out of town, just out for the evening, or shopping by yourself or with children, below are a few precautions to help make your holidays a safer one.
If you are traveling:
- Put an automatic timer on your lights
- Ask a neighbor to check up on your home
- Don’t forget to have your mail and newspaper delivery stopped
If you are out of the house:
- Turn on lights and music or the TV so it looks as if someone is home
- Be sure that your doors and windows are locked
- Don’t display your gifts where they can be seen from the outside
- If you plan to have packages delivered to your home, make sure you are home to accept them. If not, as a neighbor or ask that the package be sent to the nearest post office
If you are shopping:
- Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you
- Park in a well-lighted space
- Be sure to lock your car, close windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages
- Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Carry a purse close to your body in the front. If you are carrying a wallet, place it in an inside coat or front pants pocket
- If shopping with kids, have a plan in case you get separated. For the older children, have a central meeting spot designated. For the younger children teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated. Be sure they know your name (not just mommy and daddy), cell phone number, and their address. Go over the dangers of strangers with them so they know who not to talk to or follow
- Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has your full number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out
- Double check that you have your credit cards and check book after you pay for your items
By following these tips, you can reduce your stress during the busy holiday season and be safe at the same time. Whatever holiday you celebrate, make it a safe one.