Reminder: LAPD Offers Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

Cyber Support Officer Elizabeth Sandoval from Los Angeles Police Department

With the holiday season quickly approaching, the Los Angeles Police Department has put together some tips to ensure that your upcoming holiday shopping is as safe as possible for you and your family.

First, shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

When In parking lots,
• Park in a well-lighted area.
• Avoid parking next to vans, trucks or camper shells, or cars with heavily tinted windows.
• Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked; it can be helpful to take a picture to help locate your vehicle.
• Keep all car doors locked and windows closed, whether you are in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.
• Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
• Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in your car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
• We understand that it may be inconvenient, but it really is in your best interest to move your vehicle to another location when possible any time you return to your car with packages and then want to continue shopping. Offenders will watch out for individuals with large purchases and follow them to their cars in the hope they will leave them.

When walking to and from your vehicle,
• Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.
• Avoid walking alone at night and in un-populated or poorly lit areas. Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
• Look confident and purposeful when you walk.
• Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let yourself become distracted by texting or talking on the phone.
• If you do see something or someone that concerns you, call 911 and/or notify a security guard immediately.
• Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.
• Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.

When shopping,
• Dress casually and comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
• Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
• Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con-artists may try various method of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
• Do not carry a purse or wallet if possible. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded areas. If you have to carry a handbag, don’t wear it over your shoulder; wear it in front of you and across your body
• Keep cash and cards in your front pocket. Don’t carry wallets in your back pocket where they are easily accessible to pick-pockets.
• Carry only what you need with you. Always have your driver’s license or identification card with you, but do not bring your social security card, extra credit cards or more cash than you will require.
• Plan to pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
• Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home and notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.

When small children are with you,
• Instruct them to stay close to you at all times while shopping, to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them, and to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case they get separated from you.
• Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.
• Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car.
• Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security.

Finally, when using an ATM,
• Choose one that is located inside a police station, mall or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.
• Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.
• Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.

We at LAPD are depending on you to partner with us to make our communities a safer place to live, to work and to play. It is our sincere hope that this information will enable you and your family to better enjoy this holiday season.