Shopping this holiday season? Here’s how you can stay safe

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EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) – ‘Tis to the season to shop until you drop, but police warn that while you’re looking for the perfect gift, criminals may be watching you, looking for an opportunity to strike.

“The times that we are in right now, criminal behavior is emboldened, it’s influenced, it’s encouraged in some respects, which is sad,” said John DiPietro with the Ohio Crime Prevention Association.  

At a seminar on Tuesday hosted by the OCPA and Euclid Police at Lincoln Electric, crime prevention specialists are advising local police on how to protect shoppers during the holiday season.

“Sadly, this time of year brings out a lot of thieves, the uptick in crime, especially property crime, packages stolen from vehicles, vehicles stolen themselves, robberies in the parking lot,” said DiPietro.

Police say shoppers need to pay attention to what’s going on around them, while thinking about so many other things.

“I think just being aware of your surroundings, being aware that there are people out there that may want to victimize you and may want to take advantage of your inattention,” Avon Lake Police Chief Vince Molnar said.

They say you need to plan ahead and limit the valuables that you carry, like for instance, just the credit card for the store where you’re shopping.

“If you just have your credit card stolen and not your entire purse that has money and everything else in it, that’s important to think about these things before you venture out,” said DiPietro.

If you’re going to the mall or a shopping center, they recommend that you find a parking space that is close to the entrance and make sure that it’s well-lit at night.

It’s important to remember that thieves will be looking for valuable items that are in plain view inside your vehicle.

“Especially the high end packages and electronics. Those are those big ones now also, so take time to hide those, put them in the trunk, maybe put a blanket over them, a coat or what have you,” said DiPietro.

With so many consumers using online shopping and home delivery, you also need to take steps to protect your purchases from so called “porch pirates.” 

“One way is to think about having your package delivered to your work, think about having a package delivered to a friend that you know is going to be home all day long and can get it,” said DiPietro.

In the event you come face to face with a thief or a robber, it’s most important to make sure that you do not put yourself in harm’s way.

“Understand the best way to deal with an active aggressor that is trying to take something from you. ‘Take it, just go.’ Items can be replaced, it’s your life that cannot be,” said Dipietro. 

If you feel that you are being followed by a thief or robber, you should call 911 and drive to your local police department.

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