(SAVANNAH) Holiday shopping is shifting into high gear as the month of December gets underway, but experts say it’s also a time of year when thieves are busy turning the season of giving into the season of taking. WSAV crime expert, retired police Major Gerry Long says it’s a fact supported by crime statistics. “During the holiday season, crimes of opportunity, particularly property crimes, do go up.” said Long. She says keeping gifts out of sight inside a vehicle is key to reducing the risk of being targeted by thieves while shopping. “You don’t wanna have your entire back of your vehicle filled with things that are clearly visible to bad guys, who are gonna take advantage of that. it takes just a few seconds to break a glass.” said Long. The concealment of purchases should not be limited to a single stop on any holiday shopping trip. ” Although it might not necessarily be convenient, you want to make frequent trips so you’re in fact putting stuff in the trunk of your car.” Long said.
The Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department is sharing some advice to keep you safe at the mall, at home and when you are out of town!
•Awareness is the best protection. Be alert to surroundings.
•If anything suspicious is encountered, call 911 immediately.
•If you are a victim of a crime, try to remain calm and remember every detail possible. Look for something obvious about the suspect. Assess their height in comparison to yours. Hair color, facial hair, scars and other descriptive features are also important. Observe the mode and direction of travel. (Automobile description, color, make, tag if possible.) Also, note clothing colors and styles.
•Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Use debit or credit cards when possible and store them securely. Keep account numbers and customer service telephone numbers handy place and away from purses or wallets.
•Store cell phones in pockets as opposed to purses so that its owner may still call for help in instances of loss or theft.
•Shop in groups. More shoppers mean more watchful eyes.
•Park in a well-lighted area.
•Always store all valuables out of sight.
•Lock cars and close windows. Thieves can easily enter unlocked cars or through slightly opened windows.
•Never leave keys in cars.
•Most valuable purchases should be made last. Then go directly home after the buy.
•Consolidate smaller purchases into one or two large shopping bags. Never leave purchases unattended.
•Women should hold purses close to the body with the opening facing them.
•Avoid purses hanging from straps around the neck. A purse snatcher can harm victims with it. If someone grabs the purse, let it go. Nothing in it out values personal safety.
•Never leave a purse in the shopping cart or any other place unattended.
•Men should consider keeping wallets in front pockets rather than hip pockets or jackets.
•Photograph children before shopping. If a child is separated, police will have an updated photo to help locate them.
•Point out security guards or store offices so children know where to go if they do become separated
•Utilize home alarm systems, even when gone for short periods of time.
•Consider discarding gift packaging away from the home; or store packaging someplace out of sight for a week or two before discarding.
•Packaging alerts thieves to new possessions in a potential victim’s residence.
•Consider backing vehicles into home garages to see anyone approaching from behind.
•Resist the urge to leave unattended vehicles running to warm them in cold weather. Cars warm up quicker when driven.
AUTOMATIC TELLER MACHINES
•Try to withdraw money in daylight when lots of people are present.
•Examine ATMs to assure that no extraneous equipment is attached that may scan your cards.
•Take someone with you.
•Have your card in hand. Conduct transactions, then walk away quickly. Count the money later in a safe place.
•Always take ATM receipts.
•Ask neighbors to watch your house and alert them of legitimate visitors. Request assistance from your neighborhood watch if possible.
•Call the Crime Prevention Officer in your precinct to request extra patrols of your residence while away for extended periods.