Holiday shopping season is here and while it's a joyous season, it can also be prime time for crime.
If you are one of the brave souls venturing to a crowded shopping mall, remember these tips for staying alert and aware:
Park in a well-lit area. With shorter days, sunset can sneak up on you and you may be leaving the mall after dark. Make sure to park in an area that will be safe and well-lit when walking back to your vehicle.
Keep track of where you parked. If you are parking in a garage or expansive outdoor lot, take a photo of a landmark parking sign with your smart phone to help you remember the exact area your car is parked.
Don't be overly social. If you don't want to publicly announce the fact that your house is empty, don't check in to every retail establishment and restaurant you hit on social media.
Protect your purse. Consider carrying a smaller, cross-body bag that doesn't weigh you down and is easy to manage while you pay for purchases.
Keep track of your receipts. Bring a small zippered bag (pencil case or even cosmetic bag or Ziploc) for storing all shopping receipts in one place in your purse.
Keep your keys out when approaching car. As you head home from shopping, be sure to keep your car keys out and visible. Keep your head up, and out of your cell phone.
Stow shopping bags and packages. Keep your purchases out of sight by locking them in your trunk.
Watch your kids. It is very easy to lose track of young children at a busy shopping center. Talk to them about staying close to you in crowds and discuss a game plan for what steps they should take should they get lost. Make sure they know your phone number.
Monitor teens. If you are shopping with older tweens and teens, make sure they have their cell phones and buddy up with a friend or sibling. Designate a check-in time via text or call and/or meet-up place in an easy-to-find area, such as the mall food court. Ensure that their cell phones (and yours) are fully charged.
Even if you are a pro at shopping, you'll want to remember these helpful tips to ensure a successful, and safe, shopping excursion.