Safe Shoppers

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Mark Bowen, Marketing Director for the Valley Mall, guarantees that the Simon Center is a safe shopping environment.

"That's our number one concern," Bowen said.

Security is paramount, especially around the holidays. That's important because city crime prevention officer Scott Dinkel says Christmas can make shoppers careless.

"They aren't really thinking about being a victim. That's why thefts from motor vehicles usually do rise," said Dinkel.

Harrisonburg police offer these tips:

  • Choose a safe, well-lit parking space.
  • Lock your car doors and shop in familiar areas.
  • And cover up piles of presents in your car or lock them in your trunk.

"A criminal can easily walk by, look through the glass, see all the items, break the glass and take all the items and run. It's a smash and grab and it's real quick and easy for them to do," said Dinkel.

An easy target attracts thieves.

"Often times during the holidays these businesses are swamped with returns. Sometimes they don't worry about getting a receipt, so you can turn that back in for some quick cash or credit towards something else the criminal can use," said Dinkel.

Shoppers also should leave information like bank numbers and ATM pins at home.

"Here's another example that we find people become victims. They leave their purse in a shopping cart. That's a definite no-no. If you can, keep it on your shoulders at all times. That way you're in control of it," Dinkel said.

Men should keep wallets in their front pockets.

"When you are ready to leave the mall, make sure you have your keys ready before you get to your vehicle," said Bower.

Remember, it only takes a moment for a thief to swipe your purse or presents from your unlocked car. So, be safe this season and stay alert.

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Holiday Shopping Tips

The Parking Lot

  • Become familiar with the layout. Exits, garage ramps, store locations.

  • Note where you have parked. Section, aisle or pole number.

  • Walk "purposefully" and be aware of your surroundings!

  • Take note of: Persons wandering aimlessly, and suspicious vehicles.

  • Don’t overburden yourself with packages, children, etc.

  • Keep all valuables stored in your vehicle out of sight.

  • Secure cell phones, purses, and presents in the trunk or covered area.

  • Whenever possible, remove unnecessary valuable before you go shopping.

Your Vehicle

  • Always lock the doors and roll the windows all the way up.

  • Never store a valet key in the car.

  • Keep registration and insurance cards with you, not in the car.

  • If you have a security device, use it.

Shopping

  • Be aware of your purse at all times.

  • Carry your purse with the flap facing you, and hold it close you your body.

  • Don’t place the strap across your body.

  • Carry your wallet next to your skin, not in your coat pocket.

  • Be alert for pickpockets and thieves.

  • If someone bumps you, check your wallet or purse immediately.

  • Many pickpockets work in teams, one will distract you while the other takes your money.

  • Be wary of people setting their shopping bags down next to yours.

  • When dining, remember to keep your purse on the floor between your feet.

  • Never hang your purse on the back of your chair.

  • Never carry large sums of money, if you must, don’t flash it around.

Credit Card Safety

  • Always sign the back of your credit cards, or “Check I.D.”

  • Remember to retrieve your cards after a transaction.

  • Know where the receipts/carbon copies for the purchase are after the transaction.

  • If cards are lost or stolen report them immediately to your bank or card company.

  • Do not put credit card numbers on checks.

  • Scrutinize monthly statements for purchases you did not make.

  • Know your money.

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Source: www.nsc.org (National Safety Council Web site) contributed to this report.


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