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On Your Side: Staying safe while shopping

7:05 PM, Nov 29, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It is the holiday shopping season, and with that comes security warnings.

Thefts typically rise during the holidays, and much of that occurs in and around shopping malls.

Many of the tips police and theft prevention people recommend are common sense, people just need a gentle reminder this time of year.

Criminals will be shopping this holiday season while you are shopping, and you don't want to make yourself their Santa Claus.

The number one tip -- while your often rushed and thinking about many things -- is to stay alert to your surroundings. Something Chad Forbes tries his best to do while out shopping with his family.

"I just want to make sure my mom and my family are safe going out, just protecting, looking around, making sure no one is following us, watching the cars that are around here," said Forbes.

Safety experts say avoid carrying extra cash, pay with a credit card and take only the ones you need. Be extra careful if you carry a wallet or purse. Carol White of Palatka, Florida, says that is always on her mind.

"Making sure that my purse is secure, my keys are secure, the vehicle is secure, and I know what is going on around me," White said.

Police say shop with a buddy if you can, and during daylight hours whenever possible. Avoid overloading yourself with packages so you can see clearly and can move quickly if necessary. Don't walk and talk on your cellphone while returning to your vehicle.

When you approach your vehicle, look under, in and around it before getting in. White is careful to have her keys handy.

"So that you have them, and don;t go fumbling for them."

Police also say don't wear expensive jewelry while shopping. Make sure you collect your credit card at the end of each transaction, and report it immediately if lost or stolen.

Many burglaries to vehicles result from unlocked vehicles, so remember lock your car, take your keys and hide your belongings.

First Coast News

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