(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles about property crime in Great Bend and the steps that are being taken to address it.)
While this series has been dealing with tips about safety from property crime in and around the home, we are also entering a season with some special property crime risks and safety experts warn that there are precautions that shoppers need to consider.
It’s noted each year that this period between now and Christmas is “harvest” for retailers, but it’s “harvest” for some criminals, too, who are busy ruining other people’s holidays and making themselves more prosperous.
Law enforcement tips for holiday shoppers include:
• Slow down — it’s when you are rushing around that you can be most easily distracted and taken advantage of.
• Pay attention to your surroundings. This is important in and out of the stores.
• Parking — make sure you are in a well-lit area, near where there are lots of other vehicles and people who could respond in case of trouble.
• In the store — keep coats, purses and other personal items at reach at all times. A favorite ploy in discount stores is for one member of a crime team to distract female shoppers while another grabs her purse out of an unattended cart.
• Don’t be polite — If you are a victim in a mall or department store, get loud quickly. Scream for a clerk, or to have the store closed. People will react.
• Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Use a debit card and keep it safe.
• If you do need an ATM, use one in an area with plenty of clerks around, or, better still, just go to the bank.
• Be careful with packages. Don’t try to handle too many in the parking lot without help. And when they are in the vehicle, put them in the trunk or an area where they can’t be seen from the outside.
Law enforcement experts stress that it’s a good idea to shop with a companion. Thieves are looking for an easy mark and are less likely to attempt something with groups than with individual shoppers.