Over 140 million people will be shopping for bargains this Black Friday. Sprinkled in among those millions of bargain hunters will be thousands of criminals looking to pick up a few gifts at your expense.
These criminals will come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. They will consist of thieves, strong-arm robbers, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers who will be watching your every move, just waiting for you to let down your guard.
What can you do to avoid becoming a victim of Black Friday thievery?
1. Don’t overload yourself with too many packages. You will make it much easier for a thief to steal them from you.
2. When walking out to your car have your keys in your hand and focus your attention on the area near your car. If you see anyone loitering in the parking lot consider going back into the store or mall and informing security.
3. When leaving a store, especially a computer or electronics store, look behind you to see if anyone has followed you out of the store. Pay particular attention to anyone not carrying packages with them.
4. Put your purchases in your trunk. This is especially important for those of you who will not be driving directly home. If you are driving a car without a trunk bring a coat or blanket to throw over your packages.
5. When driving off after making an expensive purchase like a TV or computer check your rear view mirror to see if your are being followed. Thieves have been known to follow potential victims home with the intent to break into the house at a future date when the owners are away.
6. Keep your purses close to your body and drape your arm over them. This will make it more difficult for pickpockets to reach inside your bag or for it to be ripped off your shoulder.
7. If you stop at a food court don’t sling your bag over the back of the chair. Food courts are a haven for thieves looking for hungry, tired shoppers focused on food instead of their valuables. Place your bags in front of you between your feet.
8. Keep wallets small. Don’t take more credit cards or cash than you think you may use. You should carry your wallet inside your coat or front pants pocket, and keep your cash separate from your wallet to limit your loss should your pocket get picked.
9. Don’t take out your checkbook, credit card or I.D. before it is necessary to make your purchase. Identity thieves could be standing right behind you attempting to glean information over your shoulder.
10. Don’t leave your purse open or set your wallet on the counter when paying with a credit card. Take the credit card out and hold the wallet tightly in your hand. You can avoid the parking hassles and the crowded stores and malls all together by staying home and shopping on line.
If you must go out this Friday then please stay alert and keep an eye out for criminals looking for a five-fingered-discount.
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If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your high school, college, business, or organization contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.