Don't' be a victim: Holiday Shopping Tips

By Laura Ann Sills - bioemail

LaGrange, GA (WTVM) - It is considered by many to be the most wonderful time of year.  But, the Holiday Season has become a time for citizens to be just as cautious as they are thankful.

Troup County Sheriff Donny Turner would like for you to consider these tips as you begin the Holiday shopping season:

• Take along a friend, or family member, when you take the stores this Holiday Season.

• Shop during daylight hours, whenever possible.

• Park in a well-lighted area with surveillance cameras placed throughout, whenever possible. Time is of the utmost importance when you are shopping! In the amount of time it takes for you to locate your car, a thief could have his eyes set on making you the next target. So, do yourself a favor and remember where you parked your car!

• Leave valuables in your trunk, and out of plain sight! Trucks and SUV's are easier targets because they lack the security of a locking trunk.

• Dress casually and comfortably, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry (or anything that would make you a prime target for thieves inside a crowded shopping environment).

• Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings. Don't get distracted by your cell phone or other shoppers!

• 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.

• Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. If you must, carry the purse securely with the strap over your opposite shoulder. Your wallet may be carried securely inside your front pocket. Stow only the necessary items inside your purse or wallet (necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use). Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; but you should always carry your Driver License or I.D. along with you.

• Make sure you can see the waitress or waiter, and cashier or clerk, when they take your credit card. Your card should go from your hands to the electronic card-reading device and back! If someone takes your card and says they "will be right back", you have every right to feel that this is suspicious of skimming activity. Keep the card in plain sight anytime it leaves your purse or wallet.

• Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home. Then, notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.

• Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

• Call your family or friends when you change location, from one store to another. Your cell phone call log becomes a journal for where and when you were at a particular location. Many people don't think to check the time when a crime occurs. But, this information is invaluable if the store you are at has an operable and efficient video surveillance system working should you become a target.

• Don't update your Twitter or Facebook status as you hop from store-to-store. This can be a minute-by-minute update, as to when you will return, for the opportunity hungry thief!

©2010 WTVM. All rights reserved. Troup County Sheriff's Department contributed to this report.