As Thanksgiving draws closer, so does the most anticipated shopping day of the year, Black Friday.
Many shopping venues are already preparing for the influx of people and that means that the patrons also have to prepare for the mass of people as well.
The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is offering several tips to protect yourself from unnecessary thefts and safety incidents in order to make the Black Friday shopping experience enjoyable for everyone.
- For those who will be driving to various shopping venues, especially those who will begin shopping in the early hours of the night, please do not drive intoxicated
- Drive safely and be prepared for traffic delays, especially in and around areas where shopping malls are located.
- Do not run red-lights at storefront intersections and watch out for pedestrian crosswalks.
- Keep children secure in car seats even if just driving across a parking lot from one store to another.
Parking Lot Precautions
- Always lock your vehicle (even while parked at home)
- Try to shop with a friend or family member especially when shopping at hours late in the night.
- Do not leave any firearms unattended in your car either at home or while away from your residence.
- Hold your child’s hand and keep them controlled in the parking lot.
- Check the back seat of your car before getting into your vehicle.
- If you are concerned with walking to your car if you are alone, always ask store/mall security if they would escort you and your items to your vehicle.
- Have your keys in your hand when approaching your vehicle.
- If you know you will have multiple packages in your car while you shop, make arrangements with a friend or family member to collect gifts throughout the day at various points so that your vehicle will remain empty of high value packages. If a friend or family member is not available to pick up your packages, it is always best to take your packages home periodically so as to keep your vehicle empty of packages.
- For vehicles without tinted windows, always keep high value packages in your trunk. Never leave your packages such as TV’s or appliances exposed in your vehicle or the bed of your truck.
- Try to shop online whenever possible to try to avoid large waits and congested stores.
- Avoid being the recipient of a SCAM – Always know who you are giving money to and avoid online shopping on websites you may be familiar with. Use PayPal whenever possible.
- Do not flash cash or place your wallet in an unsecured area.
- Women who are going to be shopping should avoid large and bulky purses. Consider keeping your cash/credit cards in a small, easily concealable wallet.
- Women who do choose to use purses should consider keeping the strap over one shoulder to avoid snatch and grab opportunities.
- Men should keep their wallets in zip up pockets or in their front pocket where they can easily feel if a pick-pocket is trying to steal their wallet.
- Remember to be courteous to other shoppers and do not become confrontational. If you have an issue, please contact store security or contact your local law enforcement agency.
- Be constantly aware of your surroundings. If you suspect suspicious activity, get your family to safety and report any and all suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.
- Avoid public areas where foot traffic is difficult and exits are few.
- Keep an eye on your children at all times. Stores can be chaotic and children can get lost quickly.
- Do not buy more packages than you can safely carry on your own.
- Keep copies of your online receipts and all in-store receipts.
- Always double check each time you use your wallet, credit card or check book that it is secure after purchases.
Shopping Precautions with Children
- Do not leave children unattended in any store for any unspecified amount of time.
- Teach children to know who they can ask in a store for assistance such as mall security and store staff.
- Give them a card with your contact information.
- Keep an up to date photograph of your child with you should they get lost.
- Remember to only give money to legitimate charitable organizations you know and recognize.
- Never send money to an organization over the phone
- The IRS nor the HCSO will never contact you via phone asking for money – always by mail
- Do not purchase money orders to send to organizations who claim you have won something or must reserve your prize.
- Always use PayPal whenever possible to protect your purchases and account information.