Shopping during the holiday season can present unique dangers. In the past month, there have been 12 entering autos and five home burglaries in Canton. The holiday season is a time when busy people can become careless and vulnerable to theft and other holiday crime. Taking a few prevention measures can help keep your holiday season joyous. The following tips can help you be more careful, prepared and aware.
- Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
- Dress casually and comfortably.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Keep whatever cash you have in your front pocket. Pay for purchases with a credit card when possible.
- Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. If you must carry them, be extra careful. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals and bus stops. Watch your purse at all time and keep it on your body or on your arm. Do not leave your purse in the shopping cart even if just walking a short distance away.
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
- Do not leave items in your car in a visible area. This includes GPS systems, purses, shopping bags and etc. Lock all items in the trunk or store them in an area where they will not be visible. Storing items under a jacket in the car is no longer a safe practice.
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
- If you store items in your vehicle and then go back into a store to shop, move your vehicle to a different part of the parking lot. Remember to lock your vehicle doors and keep all windows up and secured.
- Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, "con-artists" may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
- Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.
Keep your guard up. Don't be a victim! Slow down this holiday season!
Jeff Lance is chief of the Canton Police Department.