Shop during daylight hours, if possible or when shopping malls are less crowded.
Shop with a friend or group of friends.
Avoid wearing excessive or expensive jewelry.
Choose parking spaces in well lit, preferably under a pole light, high-traffic areas and as close to entrances as possible. Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
Do not leave valuables visible inside your car. Purses, laptops, cameras, GPS units, portable music players and cash attract attention and tempt thieves.
– If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a mall, grocery store or a well-lighted area. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need, and keep your money in your front pocket.
– Stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings. Be aware of those around you and do not allow yourself to be distracted. Offenders may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
Keep your purse closed, carry it under your arm with arm through the straps to further secure it to your body and keep a firm grip on it.
When shopping with children, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you become separated.
Never leave your purse or wallet unattended in a shopping cart.
Avoid carrying multiple credit cards and large amounts of cash.
Conceal your credit card numbers and personal identification numbers (PIN).
Do not overburden yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps. When leaving the business and approaching the parking lot, have your car keys ready, keep your hands clear and put your purchases away as soon as possible. Do not linger in the parking lot, drive away immediately.
Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.
Have keys in your hand as you approach your vehicle.
Check the back seat of your car before entering.
Once you are in your vehicle, lock your doors immediately.
Never place packages or your purse on top of your vehicle.
Citizens should report suspicious person(s) and activity to store personnel or the police immediately; especially if you are approached by anyone. Criminals will often use a ruse of some type to get a potential victim to stop in the parking lot, making him or her more vulnerable to attack.
After the holidays, don’t leave empty boxes for new electronic items in plain view at the curb.
Update or create a home inventory list with serial numbers, including videos or photos of all your valuables, in the event that items are stolen.
Shopping in Stores
Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
Walking to and From Your Car
Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
Shopping with Small Children
If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.
Select a central meeting place.
Teach them to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone’s computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed. Visit www.bytecrime.org for free software downloads.
Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to “verify” your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
Beware of “bargains” from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or “https” in the URL address.
Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
To find more useful shopping tips and personal safety information, visit the National Crime Prevention Council’s website.