With the holiday shopping season underway, Pennsylvanians will be heading to malls and big box stores in search of the perfect gift for family and friends. Unfortunately, criminals will also be out – like the Grinch – looking for easy targets.
The Pennsylvania State Police offer the following tips to stay safe and reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Be aware of your surroundings. Many holiday crimes are “crimes of opportunity,” meaning thieves prey on easy targets. Try to shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you shop at night, park in well-lit areas and bring a friend or family member.
Keep valuables out of sight. Expensive presents in the back seat of an unattended car attract criminals. Lock your packages in the trunk. Don’t wear expensive jewelry and avoid flashing large amounts of cash while shopping.
Lock your car doors and take the keys. Thieves will walk through parking lots checking door handles for unlocked vehicles. Don’t make it easy for them. Lock your doors and take your keys. Every time.
Plan for packages. If you shop online, try to have packages delivered when someone will be available accept them. You don’t want your items sitting on your doorstep for several hours while you are away. Consider having packages sent to you at work, or using the mailing address of a trusted friend or relative who is home during the day.
Watch for con-artists. The holidays are a time of giving, but don’t let people take advantage of your generosity. Be wary of strangers who approach you in parking lots and only donate to recognized charitable organizations.
Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t. Speak up and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call 9-1-1 to report an emergency.
For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.pa.gov.