I love living in Texas – there is nothing like shopping for Christmas presents while wearing shorts and short sleeves. However you should be aware that while you are out Christmas shopping, picking up packages, going out to lunch and dinner with friends and family, there are others who are out looking to steal from you. Below are some specific tips to help you stay safe while you are shopping and out and about in this holiday season. The number one tip is to stay alert and never assume that where you are is “safe”.

Parking Areas:
Make sure you remember where you parked by noticing the landmarks to help you find your car later;

Get in and out quickly. Park in a well-lit area. Do not sit in your car or leave doors open while you put stuff in the car. Have your keys in your hand and be ready to push your car alarm if necessary. Do not be fumbling for your keys as you approach your car. Make sure to check in, around and under your car before getting near it or in it;

Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. If you see anyone who appears suspicious or seems to be loitering notify the police or mall security;

Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk, or if possible, take them directly home.
Don’t leave phones, purses, chargers (which shows you may have a phone in the car) etc. or any other item of value in your parked car where they can be seen.

If you are entering through a store, make sure you know what time it closes so that you do not have to walk around outside of the store to get back to your car.

General Information:

Shop during daytime if possible. If you plan on shopping at night try and go with friend or family member;

Do not carry a purse, or backpack as they are prime targets for pickpockets and thieves particularly in crowded shopping areas, buses, etc.;

Dress comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry;

Take only the ID and credit/debit cards you will need for the trip. Keep your wallet, cash, etc. in your front pockets;

Stay focused on area around you. While you are concentrating on what to buy, others may be focused on how to steal from you. Don’t read texts or emails while you are shopping if you can avoid it.

In stores:

Do not let your guard down in the store. This is a perfect area for a thief to take something while you are distracted with your shopping. Don’t leave purses, phones, etc. in the shopping cart, and don’t leave your purse open or slung across your back.

Identity theft prevention:

Keep your debit/credit card in sight at all times. Cover the keypad when entering pin number or any other information as you check out or use the ATM. If you lose your card notify the card company immediately and report loss/theft to police. You can also put fraud alert on your account through Equifax, and other credit reporting agencies. Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers and company contact numbers in a safe place at home so that if you lose your card(s) you have the information necessary to cancel them quickly.

With a little extra effort you can keep your holidays as stress free and enjoyable as possible! Wishing you a wonderful holiday!!!