The busy holiday season is here. When you are shopping for those precious gifts, take the following precautions to protect yourself from becoming a victim:
Vehicle Prowl Prevention:
Vehicle prowls are the theft of property from a motor vehicle. Most are crimes of opportunity such as through unlocked doors and open windows. Also, vehicles can sustain expensive damage – especially to their windows, doors and locks when there is forcible entry.
Large parking locations, such as shopping centers, are prime targets for a prowler since multiple vehicles can be hit in a short time span. To avoid being a car prowl target:
- Use a garage or secure location whenever possible.
- Park in well-lit areas where your car can be seen.
- Avoid isolated areas. Park near locations frequently used by pedestrians.
- If you hear something suspicious (shattering glass) or see someone looking into vehicles, call 911.
- Roll up the windows and lock all doors.
- Secure the trunk, hatches, bed-mounted tool boxes, and canopies.
- Activate your alarm.
- If you have a removable car stereo, remove it.
- Install anti-theft devices.
- Don’t leave packages, bags of any kind visible on the seats or floor of your car.
- Stow these items preferably BEFORE you get to your shopping locations. You don’t want someone to SEE YOU placing something in your trunk.
- If you take packages to your car trunk and want to go back to the mall, move your car. Most newer vehicles have a trunk release inside the car (in the glove box or by the driver). If the thief sees something that you have just purchased that he wants, he can easily break a window and open your trunk.
Special Winter Weather Warning:
- During the winter months, many people warm up their cars in the morning and then leave them unattended. Don’t do this. Not only is it against the law, but a running car is also an invitation to a car thief.
Parking lot/Personal Safety:
- Consider using the mall’s valet parking service if it offers one.
- Make a note of your parking spot so that you don’t have to wander around the parking lot after shopping.
- Have your keys in your hand before leaving the mall and walk purposely to your car.
- Make sure nobody is in the car before entering, and lock the doors immediately when you get inside.
- If you are leaving a mall alone at night, you may request a security escort to your car.
- At an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), choose one that is located inside a mall, grocery store, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need. Shield the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you so they cannot view your transaction or obtain your PIN. Do not throw your ATM receipt away.
- Don’t display large sums of cash in public. Be discreet about money or other valuables you are carrying.
- Be alert in public restrooms. If anything seems amiss or if a group of people is loitering in the area, leave quickly and find another facility.
- Stay alert in crowds to protect your valuables. A thief can use the cover of the crowd to make a quick getaway after stealing your wallet or shopping bag.
- Take only the credit cards you NEED for shopping, leave the rest at home.
- Ladies, carry your purses close to your body and separate your cash from your credit cards.
- Men, consider carrying your wallet in a front pocket and/or adding a large rubber band around it so if a thief tries to swipe it, it will get caught on the pocket.
- Don’t keep your keys in your purse. If your purse is stolen, then the thief will have your address and keys to your home. Keep your keys in your pocket without an ID.