Although they figure that most people are aware, police this holiday season are again warning citizens to stay safe while rushing through last-minute shopping.
"While savvy shoppers are seeking out the best bargains, so are the criminals," Ridgewood Police Chief John Ward said.
Among the tips:
• Shop before dark if you can. Go with a friend if you expect to run late;
• NEVER park in an unlit area, no matter how convenient. Park near street lights if possible;
• Lock your doors and windows no matter how quick you expect to be;
• Lock packages and other valuables in the trunk -- not in the vehicle cabin;
• Carry a purse under your arm with the strap across your body. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket -- not a back trouser pocket;
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay with a check or credit card;
• Don't overburden yourself with packages -- makes it easy for purse snatchers and other thieves. Have purchases delivered whenever possible;
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially after parking and while returning to your car. If you see people hanging around, keep going -- then notify police or security immediately;
• Have your keys in hand when you return to your car -- and ALWAYS look inside before you unlock the door to get in.
Ward added an important suggestion: "Teach your children to go to a store clerk or security guard and ask for help if they should become separated in a store or shopping mall. They should never go into a parking lot alone."
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