|(HOUSTON, TX) – With holiday shopping in full swing, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) would like to share a few shopping safety tips to help make sure everyone has a safe holiday season.|
· Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t get so distracted that you fail to pay attention to what is going on around you.
· Shop during daylight hours whenever possible and in groups of two or more.
· Park in well-lit areas. Walk out to the parking lot with a group of people. There is safety in numbers. Don’t hesitate to ask for the mall security to escort you to your vehicle.
· While shopping and loading and unloading items into your car, observe anything or anyone around you that appears strange or unusual. If your instincts tell you that there is impending danger, make sure that you avoid it at all costs.
· Make sure you lock your car and hide your valuables. When returning to your car, get in and lock the doors immediately.
· Ladies, avoid carrying a purse. Put your money, credit card and identification in your front pocket.
· Free up your hands. Avoid carrying too many bags. Make several trips to your car if necessary and secure your merchandise in the trunk.
· Have your keys in hand before leaving the store so you are not searching for them in an unsecured parking lot.
· Try to avoid shopping with small children. It can become difficult getting them in and out of a vehicle, especially when carrying several bags. If you must bring them, instruct them to get into the vehicle right away and buckle up.
· Avoid isolated ATM machines. If you must stop and get cash, do so in the daylight hours and try to use a drive-up ATM.
· When returning home, make sure no one is following you. Before exiting your vehicle, check your surroundings. If someone is home, have them go out and greet you and help you with any bags. If you believe someone is following you, try and get a license plate number and a description of the vehicle. Stay on main roadways and avoid isolated streets and cul-de-sacs. Go to an occupied and lighted location, such as a grocery store, fire station or police station. Call for help.
· Let someone know where you will be and when you intend to return. Leave a note detailing your agenda. Periodically contact a friend or family member and let them know your location.