Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Tis the season to be ….. shopping.  As we approach one of the most intense periods of frenzied shopping starting with the Black Friday sales end of November, let’s talk of safety precautions to take when shopping, not just for the holidays but for always.  Here are some tips to protect yourself:

Personal Safety

  • Daytime is still the best time to do your shopping.  With stores keeping longer operating hours for the holidays, it is tempting to go shopping till closing time, especially if you still have not gotten everything on your list.  If you must shop after dark, the buddy system is your best protection against unlawful elements.
  • If you do find yourself alone at night shopping, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from a security officer to accompany you to your car, particularly if you are burdened with shopping bags.  This is part of most malls’ service.
  • Don’t overload yourself with packages.  If possible, consolidate your purchases into one or two large bags. This allows you to keep track of things.  Plus, this gives you the ability you to protect yourself in the event that you are attacked.
  • If necessary, (and if you’re a real shopaholic), make several trips to your car to stash away your purchases.  Avoid the temptation of just throwing them in the backseat of your vehicle.  Stow your purchases in the trunk, as much as possible.  Having packages in plain sight make your vehicle vulnerable to car break-ins.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.  Watch out for strangers approaching you for no reason.  If you see a person doing this, do not be afraid to make eye contact.  This sends a message that you are aware of what he’s trying to do and this alone is often deterrent enough.  Attackers prey on those who seem weak or who are distracted.
  • Avoid using your mobile phone while in crowded places or while walking to your car.
  • When in a mall, avoid dark hallways or other backroom areas, especially when you’re caught still shopping near closing time.
  • Bathrooms are some of the places where criminals lurk.  Avoid those that are located in the back area of a mall or store.  A bathroom near the food court or in other high traffic areas is the better alternative.
  • In the unfortunate event that you are attacked, fight back, make a lot of noise and if able, activate your car’s panic button.  The objective is to avoid being taken to another location where help would be harder to summon.
  • On the other hand, if the robber just wants your purse or your packages, do not risk your life or safety.  Just hand it over.

Money Safety

  • If possible, carry as little cash as possible. But if you must and are carrying a substantial amount, it is better to spread this out among several pockets, or use hidden wallets.  Some people even stash their money in their socks – effective but it can easily become a stinky situation!
  • Using your credit card is still your best bet when going holiday shopping.  Unlike cash which is gone forever once lost, misplaced cards can be cancelled and replaced.  In addition, major credit cards such as Mastercard and Visa offer purchase protection.
  • When using your credit card, be vigilant of identity fraud and credit card fraud. Protect your credit card information as you stand in line to pay.
  • If you carry a purse, one that would allow you to carry it with the strap going across your body, from one shoulder to the opposite hip, is the best option.  This makes it more challenging for snatchers to grab and run without dragging you along with it.  Of course, never leave your purse unattended in your shopping cart, even for a split second.
  • Men should carry their wallet in the front pocket of their pants instead of the back pocket.  Another safe place is their jacket.

Car Safety

  • When looking for parking, choose a place that is well-lit and as close to the shopping building as possible.  If not, look for parking that is near a well-travelled roadway.
  • To make quick escape possible, park your car by backing into a parking space.
  • Remote car finders, starters or door openers, while convenient, can open you up to attacks in the parking lot.  Do not use them until you are actually close enough to hop into your vehicle and drive away quickly.
  • Fumbling for your keys while getting into your car also leaves you distracted and therefore, vulnerable to attacks, as well.  It is best to already have them in your hand before entering or exiting a building.  This enables you to drive away faster in case of emergencies.  In addition, car keys can serve as a weapon for self defense if you find yourself under attack.
  • Before entering your vehicle, take a moment to check that no one is hiding in the backseat.

Holiday shopping can be crazy and hectic.  We hope that by following these tips, they help keep your shopping experience more enjoyable, worry-free and safe.

Action 1st Loss Prevention is a full service commercial locksmith, offering security and protection to businesses, and their employees and customers.

We hope your holiday season is happy, safe, and secure.

For information on shopping mall access control systems and security, click here.