The Edmond Sun

November 29, 2012

Police deliver holiday shopping safety tips

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Crime doesn’t take a break during the holiday season, and public safety officials urge shoppers to keep a few things in mind while they’re crossing items off their lists.

During the holidays distractions can cause otherwise cautious consumers to be unaware of their surroundings, including the actions of would-be crooks.

Public safety experts talk about “the criminal triangle” — desire, opportunity, victim. Criminals, they say, will pick a target and observe and assess weaknesses. They test a target for accessibility and defense capabilities. Then the criminal acts.

Shoppers can avoid providing opportunity by being aware of their surroundings, avoiding parking in isolated areas, walking in lighted areas and on established paths and looking and acting as though you know where you are going.

Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said women need to have their keys ready versus digging through a purse looking for them as they walk through a parking lot.

“Park near lights and look for security cameras,” Monroe said. “Keep bags in your trunk. Anything of value left in view is an open invitation to thieves.”

Monroe said shoppers should be alert in crowded places like parking lots, jammed aisles and elevators.

Other safe shopping tips include:

• There is safety in numbers. Shop with family or friends if possible. If someone makes you uncomfortable or the situation doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and leave.

• Carry a purse close to the body and hold it tight. Do not hold it by the straps.

• If you have a number of packages from one store, put them in your trunk before you arrive at the next store, restaurant, etc. Don’t put your packages in the trunk after you arrive because someone could be watching.

• Never leave any personal items in your vehicle in plain sight. This includes money (even loose change), credit cards, cell phones, purses and GPS units. Police say GPS units should be removed and if necessary taken with you. That includes even the suction cup if it can be removed.

• Never leave doors unlocked or windows open.

• Always allow extra time. By giving yourself extra time, you’ll be able to remind yourself of these basic shopping safety tips.

• If you see anything suspicious call 911.

Monroe said Edmond did not experience a greater than normal spike in shoplifting cases during the Black Friday weekend. | 341-2121, ext. 108