Safety for the Holidays; Shopping

Posted: 20/10/2009 in crime control, defense, safety, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Surviving the Christmas Shopping Rush…

You’ll notice that I have changed to a Christmassy theme on the blog already, and that’s because I happen to think we should spend more time celebrating Christmas. Not in the commercialized way that has become fashionable, but as a way to commemorate the birth of Christ. A lot of people seem to have changed the holiday into an excuse to celebrate paganism, and in part they are correct in that the date falls close to the winter solstice and was a high holy day for the Druids and other pagan religions. In truth, Jesus Christ was more likely born around the time of the end of October or early November, I’ve been told. But whenever it was He was actually born, Merry Christmas to all!

If you haven’t heard yet, I have decided to build upon this blog and started a website regarding survival and preparedness at www.survivingmaine.com. It is in its infancy and I need to do a lot of work on it, but check it out sometime.

But as to the headline, Surviving the Christmas Rush, I would like to take a moment to discuss some tips and strategies to make it through the shopping frenzy that we experience most years. This year will probably be much different than in years past. Major retailers have less stock on hand reflecting their lower sales, and because of that will probably resort to either having some really good deals as loss leaders to drag folks into the store, or they will run some mediocre sales events. But I am betting the crowds will be just as big, but they won’t be spending as much. The growing problem of unemployment and lessening of credit availability will be cutting Christmas budgets to the bone is some cases, and eliminating Christmas shopping in others. And that is where you will start to see an increase in danger while shopping.

I believe we will be seeing a huge increase in the holiday crime rates as pick pocketing, theft, assaults, fraud and other crimes become more and more commonplace. This being the case, here are a few tips you can use to keep yourself safer at the mall. There are many more things to consider, but there isn’t room for them all, so I’ve listed a few general tips covering several areas of safety while shopping

  • Try not to go shopping when there are massive crowds in the stores. Pick times when there are fewer people around, such a afternoons and early mornings. The problem with crowds is that it becomes easier for a thief to pick your pocket or steal your purse. It’s also great time for some lunatic to kidnap your child. There will be lots of people around, but no one will see anything but the crowd.
  • Try to avoid carrying a purse if you can. Dangling pocketbooks make for tempting targets. If you must carry a purse, make sure it has a strap long enough so that you can wear the strap across your chest, keeping the purse next to your body, rather than dangling loose off of one shoulder making it easier to grab. One trick some grabbers use is to carry a sharp knife so they can cut the strap and grab your purse in an easy fluid motion. If your purse is clearly made of a thick, tough material, the grabber will look for an easier prey, like someone wearing an expensive designer bag with thin straps.
  • Pickpockets like people who carry lots of cash, and they will hang around checkout areas scoping out potential victims. Don’t carry all of your cash in one pocket, nor in a pocket in your jacket, where you will not feel the light brush of the pickpockets touch. Wear pants or slacks with pockets big enough to hold a small wallet in more than one pocket. The same thing goes for your credit cards. Don’t put all of your eggs into one basket, as they say.
  • Be aware of what is going on around you at all times while shopping. Pay attention to people whom you may observe in several stores as you shop. They may be following you, or someone you are with.
  • Park your car only in well lighted areas. Crooks like the dark.
  • Don’t leave presents and electronics where they can be seen by passersby. Put them in your trunk, or make sure you have a roll up cover in the back of your wagon. It only takes a moment for a pro to smash your window and grab your purchases, but if they can’t see what you have, they’ll move on to a more beneficial target. If your trunk is too full and you have to put your purchases on the seat, go home and empty your car. You can always go shopping again.
  • Don’t put your bags down in a crowd if you can avoid it. If they are too heavy, you need to get rid of them. Take them to your vehicle or in some cases malls have storage lockers you can rent. Get one of those if you have to, but never carry more than you can easily handle.
  • Always try to go shopping with a friend or family member. There is always safety in numbers.
  • Don’t put your credit card receipts in the bag with your purchases. There are sometimes ways a thief may be able to use the information on those cards to hack into your accounts. The identity theft instances are increasing in number as it is easy to hack into a system and steal your data. The information that may be on some receipts, especially the older styles that are still used by smaller shops can make that easier for them. Fold the receipts up and put them in a secured pocket.
  • Limit your sell phone use. Talking on the phone while shopping is on the one hand rude and ignorant to those around you, but on the other, it distracts your attention, and by listening in on what you are saying, a good thief knows what your plans are. He can tell what kind of valuables you may be carrying when you describe what you’ve bought and so forth. Keep the cell phone in its holder, and be safer for it.

These are just a few tips, as I said, and I’ll be back with more as the season progresses, so stay tuned and keep safe!

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