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Playing it Smart and Safe This Holiday

Nov 15, 2017 02:03PM ● By Staff Writer

Playing it SMART AND SAFE This Holiday

With the great Christmas rush and excitement comes great opportunity for criminals. Remember, it’s the busy season for them, too. Predators are expert readers of facial expressions and body language, and scan stores and parking lots looking for the distracted, the fatigued, and the careless. By following the simple safe-shopping techniques below, you can greatly reduce your risk of being victimized while safely enjoying the holidays.

PROJECT CONFIDENCE. Criminals avoid confident types who resist and tend to fight back. Project calm and self-assurance rather than a tired posture or a distracted demeanor. 

TUNE INTO YOUR SURROUNDINGS. Keep alert and be aware of other shoppers who do more loitering than shopping.

TRUST YOUR INTUITION. If you feel you’re being watched, you probably are. Do not isolate yourself by walking off alone or leaving the premises. Instead, stay close to other shoppers while you look for the security guard.

ASK FOR SECURITY ESCORT. If you think you’re being followed, ask security to escort you to your car and not leave until you’ve gotten inside and locked your doors. If a guard is unavailable, wait to exit with other shoppers.

 DO NOT TALK TO A STRANGER WHO INVADES YOUR SPACE OR ASKS FOR YOUR HELP. A would-be assailant will prey on your good nature by asking for help or distracting you with simple questions. Refer them to security or a store employee instead.

REMEMBER THERE’S SAFETY IN NUMBERS. Predators prefer an isolated target. When possible, shop with a friend or in a group. Bring your cell phones, and make sure they are powered on.

ALWAYS KEEP YOUR CELL PHONE FULLY CHARGED and readily available should you need to call 911. Do not use your phone to text or play games while shopping, at the food court, in the public restroom, and especially when walking to and from your car.

HAVE YOUR KEYS READY before exiting the store. Don’t fumble for your keys in the parking lot. Most car keys have a (red) panic button that will sound the car horn and cause attention. Keys also make a handy weapon against an attacker.

WHEN IN TROUBLE, SCREAM! If you find yourself under attack, holler at the top of your lungs! If in your car, blow the horn and don’t let up. The last thing a criminal wants is attention.

 DO NOT LOITER IN THE PARKING LOT. We have a bad habit of hanging out in our cars after shopping, becoming sitting ducks for thieves and carjackers. Once inside your vehicle, lock it, start the engine and leave. With these tips in mind, you’ll virtually guarantee a safe arrival home, and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is keeping your gifts hidden until Christmas Day!