The Richmond Police Department would like to remind all that with the holidays almost upon us and the shopping frenzy going full throttle, here are a few tips to stay safe and not become a crime victim…
If you are traveling:
• Put an automatic timer on your lights.
• Ask a neighbor to check up on your home.
• Don’t forget to have your mail and newspaper delivery stopped.
• Sign up for email and text alert systems at your campus/local police departments to stay in touch if you may be away during the holidays.
If you are out of the house:
• Turn on lights and music or the TV so it looks as if someone is home.
• Be sure that your doors and windows are locked.
• Don’t display your gifts where they can be seen from the outside.
• If you plan to have packages delivered to your home, make sure you are home to accept them. If not, as a neighbor or ask that the package be sent to the nearest post office.
If you are shopping at a mall or a store:
• Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you. Park in a well-lighted space.
• Be sure to lock your car, close windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
• Call to cancel missing and stolen credit and debit cards immediately.
• Make sure to complete warranty and/or product registration forms and mail them out as soon as possible since they may provide some kind of protection or replacement value if your property is stolen.
• Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has your full number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out.
• Double check that you have your credit cards and check book after you pay for your items.
Shopping in Stores:
• Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
• Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
• Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multiuse disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
• Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
• Tell a security guard or store employee of you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies of you are using mass transit or walking to and from your car.
• Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
• Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
• Do not leave packages visible through your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
Shopping with Small Children:
• If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you are separated from each other.
• For the older children, have a central meeting spot designated.
• For the younger children, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated. Be sure they know your name (not just mommy or daddy), cell phone number, and their address. Go over the dangers of strangers with them so they know who not to talk to or follow.