Safety tips for the holiday shopping season

With the busy holiday season here, the Lynnwood Police Department offers the following safety tips:

Safe shopping from home:

Do not have items shipped to a home if no one will be there to receive them. Packages are too easily stolen from front porches.

Preventing vehicle prowls:

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:

Remember the 3 S’s:

Scan: Scan the contents of vehicles. Are there items visible that would be of interest to a criminal?

Stow: Discreetly stow everything out of sight; try not to be seen placing something in the trunk of a vehicle. Do not use a blanket or coat to cover valuables, this piques the interest of a prowler.

Secure: Close windows and lock vehicles.

  • Use a garage, secure location, or valet service whenever possible.
  • Park in well-lit areas where cars can be seen.
  • Avoid isolated areas. Park near locations frequently used by pedestrians.
  • Secure the trunk, hatches, bed-mounted tool boxes, and canopies.
  • Remove car stereos if they can be removed.
  • Install anti-theft devices.
  • Don’t leave packages, bags of any kind visible on the seats or floor of a car.
  • If you take packages to your car trunk and want to go back to the mall, move your car or take your items home.
  • Those who hear something suspicious (shattering glass) or see someone looking into vehicles, should call 911.

Parking lot/personal safety:

  • Consider using the mall’s valet parking service if it offers one.
  • Make a note of parking spots so that you don’t have to wander around the parking lot after shopping.
  • When leaving the mall, shoppers are advised to walk purposely to their vehicle with their keys in hand.
  • Make sure nobody is in the car before entering, and lock the doors immediately when inside the vehicle.
  • Shoppers leaving the mall alone at night may request a security escort to their vehicle.
  • At an automated teller machine (ATM), choose one that is located inside a mall, grocery store, or well-lit location. Withdraw only the amount of cash needed. Shield the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing nearby so they cannot view transactions or obtain the PIN. Do not throw ATM receipts away.
  • Don’t display large sums of cash in public. Be discreet about money or other valuables.
  • 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 valuables. A thief can use the cover of the crowd to make a quick getaway after stealing wallets or shopping bags.
  • Take only the credit cards required for shopping, leave the rest at home.
  • Women are advised to carry purses close to their body and separate their cash from their credit cards.
  • Men, consider carrying wallets 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 keys in a purse. If a purse is stolen, then the thief will have the victim’s address and keys to their home. Keep keys in a pocket without an ID.

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.

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