JCSO holiday shopping safety tips

JCSO holiday shopping safety tips

As a reminder of the dangers that increase during the height of shopping during holiday season, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has released some safety tips to help shoppers remain safe. 

Wear comfortable clothing with a number of pockets. You can carry your money, ID and credit cards in your pocket to avoid a purse or wallet. ** Avoid flashy jewelry whether it is real or costume.

Avoid carrying a purse and/or wallet. Leave your hands free to deal with kids and packages. Definitely avoid shoulder purses of any kind. If you must carry a purse, carry a short strap hand held purse, as it is hard to let go of a shoulder strap purse when someone snatches it. Carry only the essentials in your small purse or fanny pack that you can keep close to your body and only carry what you will need for that shopping trip! For men, instead of a wallet, secure your cash in a money clip in your front pocket. If you must carry a wallet, wear snug fitting pants or carry it in your coat breast pocket so that you would feel if someone tried to steal it out of your pocket.

Carry cash in denominations no larger than a $20.00 bill. If your bank gives you larger denominations, have them exchange it before you leave. Carry your cash in various locations on your body such as pockets, socks, bras, etc. Never pull all of your cash out at once. If you carry a checkbook, make sure that you keep up with the check numbers and the recipients. This will assist you in cancelling your checks, should any be stolen. Carry only the credit cards that you need while you are shopping. Always log your credit card numbers with the (800) numbers and keep them in a safe place or e-mail them to yourself and file the information in an electronic folder just in case you have to cancel them.

Keep your vehicle doors locked at all times Most vehicles with electric door locks can be set to stay locked when you put your car in park. You should only unlock your door from inside manually.

Drive around a parking lot and make sure that there are no suspicious activities going on before you park. If you are going to be returning to your vehicle after dark, park in a well lit area. Identify nearby landmarks near your vehicle so you can return to your vehicle easily. Have everything in your hands before you get out of your vehicle. Be aware of your surroundings. Exit quickly, lock your door and proceed to your destination. Keep your keys in your hand in case you have to use them as a defense weapon. Walk in the center of the drive. If a vehicle approaches, step to the driver’s side of the approaching vehicle and let it pass. Then return to the center of the drive. Make good eye contact with people and issue a verbal acknowledgment. This lets the potential attacker know that you have seen them and may possibly recognize them again.

When returning to your vehicle, have your keys in hand, quickly enter into your vehicle and leave. Do not sit and arrange packages, make phone calls or put on make-up. This allows a potential attacker time to approach you. Do not activate your remote keyless entry until you are even with the back of your vehicle. If done any sooner, someone could enter into your vehicle before you do.

If you're attacked, do not resist. There is nothing in your packages, purse or wallet that is worth your life. If you are forced into a physical confrontation to protect yourself or others, scream to call attention to yourself. You can also hit your alarm on your vehicle to call attention to yourself.

You can use your keys or thumbs to gouge the attacker’s eyes Use the heel of your hand to jam the attacker’s nose or adam’s apple Knee the groin area or stomp down on top of the attacker’s foot. The purpose of these defense tactics is to stun your attacker so that you may make a quick escape. Be able to describe your: gender, race, height, weight, identifying features such as scars, marks, tattoo's and other oddities, glasses, clothing (particularly pants and shoes), vehicle descriptions and direction of travel. 

Shop with others. If you are by yourself and feel apprehensive about returning to a parking lot, ask for an escort from security or a store manager. Do not leave valuables in your car. If you think that you are being followed, do not drive home. Call 911 on your cell phone, know your location and remain on the phone. If you do not have a cell phone, drive around until you see a law enforcement officer or go through a fast food drive thru window (one that is clear) and ask the clerk to get a description of the vehicle if they can and call law enforcement for you. If you think you are being followed in a store, locate an employee immediately for safety purposes and call 911 if necessary.

As a reminder, 911 is a free call on your cell phone. Even cell phones with no data service can be used to call 911. Keep a cell phone charged and with you if at all possible.