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Staying safe during Black Friday

Posted at 4:46 AM, Nov 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-23 06:31:37-05

Black Friday and the start of Christmas shopping are here. So that means shoppers need to be careful and mindful of their safety this holiday season.

After Thanksgiving and leftovers are safely packed away, many folks begin to plot their Black Friday shopping plan and search for the best deals.

Because the day after Thanksgiving is unofficially known as the start of the holiday shopping season known as “Black Friday.”

Black Friday is associated with bargains, early store hours and Christmas shopping. Many savvy shoppers and bargain-hunters look forward to the thrill of shopping on Black Friday.

Unfortunately, thieves also anticipate this busy season as they look to turn unaware shoppers into Black Friday victims.

“The crime level in parking lots always seems to go up during the holiday time because people know that there are people out there buying presents for people and gifts, and trying to get a lot of good deals on things, especially with Black Friday,” said DPS Sgt. Nathan Brandley.

Department of Public Safety Sergeant Nathan Brandley says many people don’t think about the fact that bad things can happen when they go shopping, especially during the holiday season.

“Don’t leave your wallet and your purses in your car. If you have someone that can go with you to help out and carry the load and watch over all the items you are purchasing. Don’t be in a rush, slow down, get the things you can, and if you can, return home with them before you head to another location to do more shopping,” said Brandley.

Brandley also says this is the time of year to be safe on the roads as well.

“This weekend, DPS especially, we always ramp up our patrol out there to be seen and to help watch for people who are speeding, not wearing seatbelts, intoxicated drivers, and people who are distracted driving now with all kinds of devices that are out there. This is a major time going into the holiday season between now, Christmas, New Years,” said Brandley.

Safety tips for holiday shopping

  • Stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Do NOT leave articles of value in your vehicles and make sure the doors are locked.
  • Always try to park in well-lit areas at a familiar location to help remember where you are parked.
  • Shop with a partner
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash on your person and secure you purses and wallets
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages and try to finish your shopping during the day.
  • Use well-lit, well-populated ATM’s. Do NOT use an ATM that has been tampered with.
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen, or misused
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con-artists may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
  • If you go shopping with children, make sure all children with you know your cell phone number. Make a plan with children in case you get separated. Have a central meeting place, and review with your children who they can turn to for help if they find themselves alone. Go over the dangers of strangers with them so they know who not to talk to or follow.

Police officials also suggest you carry a minimal amount of cash, and you should keep it, along with ID’s in your front pocket. They also say you should use credit or debit. It’s also best to avoid wearing expensive jewelry and park in well lit spaces.  It’s also best to avoid parking close to vans, cars with dark tint and trucks with campers. Another note is if you unload your bags and plan to do more shopping, it might be good to shift your parking spot.

Vehicle and parking lot safety tips

  • Know exactly where you park and never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient.
  • Try to avoid parking next to a van.
  • If you are leaving the business after dark or you have too many packages, ask a store clerk or security guard to assist you to your car or leave with a group of people.
  • Have your vehicle keys out and available to open the door.  Check the inside and outside of your vehicle prior to entering. Get in and then lock the doors.
  • Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk. Keep your vehicle’s doors locked and windows closed.
  • Be wary of distractions.  If someone tries to get you to stop your vehicle or divert your attention, stop in a well lit and populated area and then call for help.
  • Never leave your vehicle running and unattended.

If you are not able to lock an item in your vehicle or hide it, hold it, taking your valuable item with you will help decrease the chances it will be stolen from your vehicle.