Here's a list of holiday shopping safety tips commonly shared by law enforcement and personal safety specialists.
Even though these are being called “holiday shopping” tips, you should keep these in mind all the time. They really can help prevent you from becoming targeted for theft... or worse.
1. Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member (there is safety in numbers), and park in a well-lighted area. Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked. Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.
2. Ideally, pay for your purchases with a check or credit card when possible. If you have to use cash, keep it in your front pocket but avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
3. Never leave your purchases unattended, even for a few minutes. Leaving your purchases in plain view may make you a thief’s next victim.
4. Always be alert when approaching or leaving your vehicle. DON’T approach your car alone if you see suspicious people in the area. Pay attention to anyone who appears to be loitering in the parking lot. If you suspect a problem, ask security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
5. Be sure to have your keys ready prior to leaving the store, so you won't be distracted fumbling for them when you get to your car.
6. Thieves target victims who are distracted, so avoid talking on your cell phone while walking to your car.
7. Avoid overloading yourself with packages. Make several trips to your car if you have to so your hands are free in case you need to defend yourself.
8. DON’T leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. Lock them in your trunk and out of sight.
9. Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Don’t put them down or on top of the car in order to open your door.
10. Be cautious of strangers approaching you for any reason. Sure, we want to be friendly... but just stay alert to trouble.
I hope these simple measures ensure you have a safe shopping experience. Remember, it simply never hurts to be smart. So, stay alert and prepared.
Phil Ventrello is the Founder of MUNIO Self Defense and the inventor of the MUNIO Designer Self Defense Keychain. He is a 5th Degree Black Belt and a Master Instructor of the Combat Hapkido self defense program at Foundation Martial Arts in Erie, PA. Phil is a lifetime member of the International Combat Hapkido Federation, a member of the American Women's Self Defense Association, and has been inducted into Action Martial Arts Magazine's Hall of Honor for his outstanding dedication in the martial arts.