The holiday season is in full swing and many of us are going online or out to local stores and malls to do holiday shopping. Unfortunately, thieves and pickpockets will be looking for easy targets. By taking a few precautions suggested by the Cook County state's attorney's office, you can make yourself less likely to become the victim of a holiday theft.
Keep these things in mind when heading out to the mall:
* Make note of where you park your car so you will be able to quickly return to it when leaving. If shopping in the evening, try to park under or near a light. When returning to your car, always have your keys out and ready to use.
* If you are carrying a purse, be sure it is closed and that your wallet is tucked securely inside. Carry your purse on your shoulder and under your arm, making it less accessible to others. If you are only carrying a wallet, keep it either in an inside pocket of your coat or jacket or in a front pants pocket. Keeping a wallet in a back pocket can make it very easy for a pickpocket to grab.
* Don’t get overburdened with packages. If you will be purchasing several small items, consider bringing a larger bag to put them all in. If your purchases become difficult to carry, take them out to your vehicle or rent a storage locker at the mall. Just be sure to retrieve your packages when you have finished all of your shopping.
* If you do put your purchases in your car, be sure to put them in the trunk or in a location in the vehicle where they cannot be seen by someone walking by. Make sure all the windows are closed and that all the doors are locked.
* When you set bags down to make a new purchase, always put them between you and the counter. Be sure you have picked up all your bags, including your newest purchase, before leaving the counter.
* Always make sure you check your receipt and count your change before leaving the cashier.
* Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Distracted individuals are easy targets for pickpockets.
Shopping from the comfort and safety of your home can also make you vulnerable to holiday thieves. Keep these tips in mind when shopping online:
* Always use known, trusted retailers. Go to their sites directly by typing their URL in the address bar, not from a search engine. This will help you avoid look-alike sites with similar names.
* Pay with a credit card and make sure the page input of your credit card number is secure. Look for a locked padlock or an ‘s’ in the beginning of the URL (https:// instead of just http://).
* Make sure you are familiar with the return, refund and shipping terms of the site before placing your order.
* As always, trust your instincts. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
By remembering to take these few common sense precautions, you can have a safer and more enjoyable shopping experience.