Please be careful this holiday season. Crime rates are at their highest levels during the Christmas holiday season every year, everywhere. This year I would expect them to be much higher because of how bad our economy is. Here are a list of ways to help protect yourself from becoming a victim for you and your families that I would like to share with you all, and please, please press these upon your children especially if they are out shopping with friends and without you or another adult. You may know some of these, but some may not. It never hurts to refresh our minds, especially in our hurry up travels in our every day life when our minds are on the tasks and not on awareness and safety. These tips should be used at ALL TIMES really, because our world is becoming more evil all the time. If anyone has any other tips or awareness you would like to add, please do. Let's keep each other safe with what ever safety knowledge you may have to share.
1. Don't shop ALONE if you can help it especially at night. Keep your car doors locked at all times as soon as you enter into your car. Keep a cell on your person at all times.
2. LOOK and LISTEN! Always be very aware of your surroundings. Don't ever trust that anyplace is safe no matter on many times you have been there. There is always that first time. This goes for inside a store or shop and outside. When you’re inside a store shopping, take moments to look and watch the people around you. A shady person who is up to no good will look for someone who looks like they have money by the way you dress, including the jewelry you wear, and or the money your spending, and by what you have in your cart or arms to purchase. They will follow you through out the store and then out the door and to your car, and then try to overcome you. They can be after what you have on like jewelry, or your purchases, and or your purse, and sometimes to steal your car, or worse, to steal, kidnap, and rape. They have also been known to follow you to your home. They come back later to rob your home or worse. Always Always, keep your eye on the next guy. (This has happened to me, not the rape or kidnap part thank God!). This may sound bizarre, but believe me it happens more often than you think.
3. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR RECEIPTS. If you're using credit or debit cards to pay for your purchases, always keep an eye on the cashier as they ring up your purchases. Always check your receipts before you leave the store. There are a lot of shady cashiers out there. Did you know that some stores still have registers where the cashier can add cash back to your order without you knowing it? They usually have a buddy that works this with them. Their friend will be in line behind you although you don't know this, and when the cashier charges your card for an amount of cash back, after you have left the line the friend will make a very small purchase and when he/she is handed their receipt, the cashier has also slipped them the cash stolen from you. Always check your receipt before leaving the line.
When paying with cash, always make sure you know exactly what you have given the cashier in bills. Cashiers have been known to short change their customers. They pocket it for themselves. This can also be a time when they work with a buddy too. Their friend will be in line behind you and the cashier will slip them what they have short changed you. Some cashiers don’t count back the change to a customer, so always be sure to count your change before you leave the line. If you feel you were short changed in anyway, ask for a manager to have the cashiers till counted and run against their total sales. An overage of cash will show up in the till. You need to do that right away before the cashier has a chance to wait on their friend behind you.
4. PARKING LOTS. If it's possible, always park in a well lit area at night which isn't always possible to do.. Malls and large shopping centers sometimes will have security patrolling in the parking lots, but how many times do you see them when you might need them? They never have enough to cover large areas outside and generally they will have them walk around inside too. When you’re shopping in Malls or Large shopping centers where the parking lots are just huge and far, these tips are good to practice. Another thing to keep in mind is there are bad guys that know large malls and shopping centers have security guards patrolling the parking lots. It is known that these bad guys will dress as security guards but are imposters. Most security guards will be in either a marked golf cart or marked car and usually have a yellow flashing light on top.
A. When you’re walking to your car keep your eyes scanning to both sides of you, in front of you and look behind you. Keep your ears keen to footsteps or voices around you. Watch for anybody walking towards you coming from in between parked cars. Do an eye scan for anyone sitting in a parked car beside your car. Keep your eye on them until you’ve gotten in your car and have locked your door. They could be waiting for whoever it is that owns the car they have parked beside.
B. If your shopping alone and especially at night, and you have a lot of packages to carry by hand to your car, see if there is someplace like behind the cashiers register, or a service desk, where you could ask to have them hold them while you go get your car to pull up in front of the store, and then retrieve your packages. If you can tie the top of the bags in a knot, it will deter anyone from lifting something you have paid for while you get your car. Check your bags to make sure you still have everything you have purchased before leaving. It’s safer to have your hands free when going to your car. If no place is available, see if there is an associate of the store that could help you out to your car.
C. When leaving the store, take your keys on your key ring and put them up between each of your fingers facing up and out between the fingers, then make a fist, having the main key ring part in the palm of your hand. It would be kinda of like brass knuckles. The ends of the keys will act like a protective weapon if someone tries to attack or over come you. By throwing a punch into their face if you can, it will cause much pain enough to hopefully cause them to lose their grip on you so you can run screaming to get help.
D. Something even better is to purchase a small can of mace (I would think twice about that for kids though). I would also advice a bit of training or guidance through local law enforcement with this too, or someone who is trained in this area. It can become just as easily a weapon against you if you loose control of it. Something to look for in that would be those spiral stretchy type bracelets or key rings that you can slip on your wrist, but not to big around the wrist. When leaving the store, tuck the can of mace up in the palm of your hand with your finger on the spray nozzle making sure the spray aim is facing straight out and not at you. If someone is a threat to you, you will be ready before they can overcome you. Spray them in the face and then run screaming back to the store. It’s not a good idea to wear mace on a long chain around your neck. If someone is trying to overcome you, they can choke you out with the chain or whatever is around your neck and turn the mace on you instead. Have the mace in the hand you use, and your keys in the other hand. If you have on your key ring the little automatic door lock and unlock thingy that also has the button for setting off the alarm on your car, have your finger ready on the button so if your threaten by someone or feel threatened by someone, you can set the alarm off on your car in hopes that they’ll turn and walk away from you because of the attention the alarm can bring in your direction. (I use that button sometimes just to find my darn car! :) ).
E. When walking to your car and as your approaching your car, look at the underneath of your car. It has happened that bad guys will lay in wait under your car and as you unlock your car door and get ready to get in, they will grab your ankle and try to pull you down or trip you up to fall. The purpose is to rob you and or steal your automobile or both, or worse. (This happened in our area. The woman was put in the trunk of her car and her attackers drove off with her car for several miles. Another car with their friends followed to pick them up once they stopped. They eventually stopped, took her purse and several other items in her car, and left the car with her locked in the trunk. This woman was fortunate because she had her cell phone in her back pants pocket and was able to alert authorities to what was happening to her. They were able to find her in time to save her life. She suffered only minor injuries).
F. This brings something else to mind. Instead of carrying a purse, its better to wear one of those fanny packs around your waist with your credit cards, cash, checks, and cell phone when shopping. It’s much easier for someone to wrestle your purse from you than it is to get the fanny pack off of you. You should cover the fanny pack with a loose shirt pulled over it or, your coat or jacket. No one will see you have it. It’s less to carry this way too. If you don’t have a fanny pack, try to carry a purse or handbag with a long shoulder strap. Wear it over your head and on over the shoulder with the purse laying down under the opposite arm laying on that side of the hip. (If you know what I mean here.) Also, put your coat on over the purse. This keeps an attacker from coming up behind you, grabbing the strap of the purse that’s laying across your back and pulling you down to the ground, and then pulling the purse off of you. Keep it covered.
5. ATM robberies are on the rise. If you need to use an ATM, avoid using them at night if possible. Try to have someone with you to watch out for you. Avoid low traffic areas, like banks and off street ones after hours. Try to use ones where you can pull your car up close for easy out and in. Lock your doors as soon as you return to your car. Be cautious and aware of what is going on around you at all times. This even applies to day time ATM use. Bad people will lay in wait for a quick stolen buck.
This is all I can think of right now. If I remember something else I’ll add it later. If anyone has something to add and share please do. It’s just very important to constantly be aware of your surroundings. Take every precaution there is for safety’s sake. If we are in trouble we always hope there is someone around to come to our aid, but many times there isn’t, and many times people will stand and watch being afraid to get involved or just can’t. One other thing that I highly suggest is to get with your local law enforcement agency to see if they have a list of do’s and don’ts and tips for their citizens to help protect themselves. Many do and they can also alert you to some of the newest scams and cons and techniques that are happening by the evil doers in our communities. Local news channels usually give awareness tips also, so stay tune and share the information with all those you love and care for. This all seems bizarre, but it's real and serious and not anything to laugh at. All this makes internet shopping much more appealing I’d say! :) (You just have to beware of the rip off artists on the net, but still it's safer.)
Wishing you all a SAFE season and Happy fun shopping! Debi
P.S. Up above where I mentioned the key ring with the automatic car door lock and unlock, and the button to set off the car alarm, here is another good safety tip for at home with that. If you don't have an alarm system in your home try this. At night when you go to bed be sure to have a phone by the bedside and your car keys. If you hear or think someone is trying to break in, hit the alarm on your keys to set off your car alarm, then call 911. Hopefully the alarm of your car will scare off anyone trying to break in. Check first to see if being in your bedroom and hitting the button for the alarm will work before depending on it.