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Holiday Shoppers Safety

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

SHERIFF NEUSTROM ADVISES HOLIDAY SHOPPERS,
“PREPARE FOR SAFE SHOPPING”

Anxious shoppers and retailers alike look forward to this day all year, the day after Thanksgiving. It’s usually the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year. And this year will be no different. Shoppers are making their lists and checking them twice. But, they may be neglecting to check their safety. Just how safe is shopping at this time of the year? Shopping can be as safe as any time of year with a few simple precautions – as simple as “Don’t shop alone”.
This time of year has a tendency to attract more shopping-related criminal activity because of larger crowds and extended store hours. These factors, combined with the usual distractions related to shopping, create a more favorable environment for petty thieves and other offenders.
In light of these factors, Sheriff Neustrom warns shoppers to be on their guard so that they do not become one of the tens of millions of people a year who are victimized by some sort of criminal activity. Malls and shopping centers across the U.S.. are heightening security measures by hiring additional security personnel and installing surveillance cameras in areas such as parking lots and entrances. Retailers are doing their part, so shoppers should take time to prepare to have a safe shopping experience.
“Unfortunately, people sometimes have a tendency to become distracted and lose sight of their personal safety while they shop,” said Sheriff Neustrom. “However, there are several precautions busy shoppers can take to help eliminate their chances of becoming a crime statistic.”
Those safety precautions include:
Always shop with another person. A single shopper is the ultimate target for theft.
When going shopping, make sure you tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return home. Having a cell phone handy can help in an emergency.
Plan ahead. If you know you are going to return to your car after nightfall, park in a well-lit area. Note your parking place. Parking lots have a tendency to look very different as cars come and go.
If you are in a store and sense that you are being followed, locate a store employee or security personnel. Be prepared to give a complete description of the person you suspect.
If carrying cash, keep it in a front pocket. This makes it more difficult for a pickpocket to remove your money.
Store car keys in a pant or jacket pocket. If your purse is stolen, you will still be able to drive home.
Take only one or two credit cards and a couple of checks with you.
Make a list of all credit card numbers and the numbers to call in case they are lost or stolen. This will make the incident a lot easier to report.
If you feel uneasy returning to your car alone, find a security guard and ask him to walk you to your car.
When returning to your car, be aware of your surroundings, look around the parking lot for any suspicious activity, when you reach your vehicle, check around it and in the back seat.
Have your car keys in your hand to avoid spending unnecessary time unprotected from the security of your vehicle. Lock your doors as soon as you enter your vehicle.
Sheriff Neustrom concluded, “By taking these simple, safety precautions’ you are kicking off your holiday season in a responsible way. Don’t let some would-be criminal ruin your holiday season. Take responsibility for your own safety!
Lt. Craig Stansbury
Public Information Officer
Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office

Lt. Craig Stansbury
Public Information Officer
Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office