This is the time of year that should be one of fun, celebration and good times. However, it is also a good time for those who wish to make off with "easy pickings." In this case, easy pickings are those Christmas shoppers who don't use common sense when shopping. Criminals are at their utmost highest alert during these times. Unlocked cars are like an invitation to come on in and take what you want. However, this is also the time when deadly accidents can occur. Drug addicts don't particularly care if you get scared, maimed, injured or, in some cases, killed as a direct result of their robbing you. Not long ago, during Christmas, a woman in my area parked far away in one of the local shopping malls. It was late in the afternoon. A man in a mask came up to her and demanded everything she had, Christmas gifts, her purse, car keys, credit cards and everything. She told the thief he could have everything. But, she was not getting in the car as he commanded. He shot her in front of security cameras, several eye witnesses, including small children. She died three days later. It took two years, but the murderer was caught. I'm going to include some safety tips that may help you not suffer the same fate as this unfortunate woman.
1. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. There are people parked in other cars who most likely are watching you. Parking far from the department store is not advised for women who are alone. If you can't park up close, wait another day or go to another store where you can park closer. Best advice is to take someone with you while you shop. Most times, there are security details around the malls. Ask one of the security officers to accompany you to your car.
2. Do NOT leave valuables in your car. It should be common sense to never leave cell phones, wallets, jewelry in the car. But, during Christmas season common sense is frequently thrown to the wind. In fact, if you leave such valuables in your car, a thief may just wait for you to come back instead of breaking into the car and take what you have in your shopping bags as well.
3. If you are attacked by an armed criminal, do not fight back. There is no gift on this earth worth your life. Give up everything you have to the robber. If, as in the case of the unfortunate woman above, you are told to get into the car, you have to make a decision. If you do as you are told, chances are you will never see the light of day again. Personally speaking, I would do as the woman above did. If I am going to be shot, they are going to do it in front of dozens of security cameras and eye witnesses.
4. Fake Charities prey on shoppers during Christmas. They usually come to you as someone from the Red Cross, Salvation Army. But, they can come as some unknown charity that appears to be for a good cause. Most cities issue a license for legal charities to wear as some sort of badge on their shirt or blouse. Always ask to see their badge if they do not have one.
5. Always keep aware of small children. It is during this time that children sometimes get separated from their parents in the crush of crowds. If possible, it is advisable to leave children at home with someone. If that is not possible, teach your children to go to a store clerk, security officer or police officer for help. Children can also be snatched away by sexual predators during this season. Please hold their hands or, if small enough, make them ride in the shopping cart.
6. Don't talk to strangers. Yes, this is something we teach our children at an early age. But, it is something adults should put to practice during Christmas season also. You could be distracted by a stranger as their partner in crime relieves you of your Christmas purchases. Limit your interaction with people you don't know in the mall or any department store.
Christmas is a joyous occasion. But, you must be aware it is also a time of the year that criminals use to their advantage. We are all focused on Christmas and shopping for gifts. Criminals know this and will act accordingly. Using some of these common sense ideas will go a long way in helping you to not become another statistic during the Christmas season.