It’s the season of shopping, shopping, and more shopping! Boriqua Chicks wants you to stay safe as you check names off your gift list. We spoke with a friend of Boriqua Chicks, a Chicago Police Officer and safety expert. Below are his top 10 tips to keep in mind to stay safe while shopping.
1) If possible, don’t shop alone.
If you need to go shopping by yourself, at least let a friend or family member know you are going. Also, don’t leave a digital footprint with social media on every place you went and what you bought. Perhaps you can post later where you went vs. while you are still there.
2) Don’t flash and shop.
When you shop, avoid carrying large amounts of cash, wearing expensive jewelry and watches, and holding your new iPhone in your hand for everyone to see. You don’t want to draw unwanted attention to criminals.
3) Limit what you normally carry and where you keep your money.
Most men carry a wallet in their back pocket; don’t do this! Only carry a few important IDs and keep your money in your front pockets. Some women carry huge bags; lose the bulky purses and find a small bag that can wrap around your body! Limit what you normally carry and where you place your money.
4) Treat your vehicle with extra caution.
Theft from vehicles, along with robberies, significantly increases over the holidays. So before leaving your parked vehicle, make sure your valuables are packed away and out of plain sight. Avoid leaving anything on the backseats or on the floor. If you need to put personal items or gifts in the trunk, pull over prior to entering into any new parking lot and load your trunk. You may be asking, ‘Why?’ There are criminals that sit and watch people in parking lots and wait for them to load packages in their trunks, right before leaving their vehicle.
5) Be strategic about where you park.
If possible, park in areas that have good lighting and where you can visibly see the entire surrounding of your vehicle. Also, make a note of where you park as it is easy to forget where you parked in a crowded lot after a long day of shopping.
6) Remember to lock your car doors.
Before you leave your vehicle, always make sure you have your keys in your hands and then lock your doors. While I don’t recommend sitting in your vehicle, if you must sit in it for a few moments, always make sure your car doors are locked.
7) Keep your hands free.
Avoid carrying multiple packages, occupying both hands at once, especially if shopping alone. Why? You’re more vulnerable to being victimized and secondly, if you limit the number of items you are carrying, you minimize any potential of misplacing or losing anything. As mentioned in #2…don’t shop with your phone in your hand—put it away.
8) Beware of strangers who approach you and ask you for things.
How can you do this? Whether leaving out your apartment, home, office building, or the mall…put the cell phones away; walk with your head held high; and give people eye contact. Con artists may try to distract you or make some form of physical contact with you to distract you. They may ask random questions like, “Do you have the time? Have you seen a little girl? Do you have a lighter or light?” Or the newest one, “Can I use your phone? My battery died.” These may seem easy to identify as suspicious as you read them in this post, but people often trust strangers. Thus, be mindful and be aware.
9) If you feel someone is following you, take action.
If you feel you are being followed, call 911 and drive to the nearest police station. If you are not close to a station, provide as many details as possible to the police. Also let a friend or relative know that you think you are being followed and ask them to meet you. Always wait for them at a safe and busy high traffic location until someone has arrived and drive home together.
10) Be alert + Be smart = Be safe.
Lastly, the most important thing to remember during this time and everyday is to be aware of your surroundings. It is better to be extra cautious than to not be cautious at all.
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