There are plenty of places to shop in Central Florida (check out our shopping directories), and while most of them are very safe shopping while on vacation and especially during the holiday season can present unique danger. People are busy and can become careless and vulnerable to theft and other crime. Taking a few prevention measures can help keep your vacation and/or holiday season safe:
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
- Dress casually and comfortably.
- Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.
- Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.
- Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with checks, credit, charge or debit cards. Carry cash and wallets in a front pocket to reduce your chances of having your pocket picked.
- Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
- Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.
- Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
- Remember where you parked your car. While this may sound elementary, many shopping areas are spread out over large areas. Being unable to locate a car can cause you undue confusion and stress that may present you as a better target to a criminal.
- If shopping late in the day or after dark, park in an area that is well lighted. Keep in mind, if you are shopping at a mall, the time the store closes from which you enter the mall, as some stores close earlier than others. This may keep you from having to walk unnecessary distances to you car if you find the store has closed earlier than you expected.
- As you return to your car, make sure to keep your car key in your hand.
- Don’t leave car phones, purses, CD cases, or any other item of value in your parked car where they can be seen. Always conceal these items.
- Don’t leave purchased merchandise in your parked car where it can be seen. Conceal these items also.
When shopping with children:
- Children should never be left alone in a car – not even for a minute.
- Inside the mall, keep your family with you at all times. If you plan to separate, arrange a meeting place and time.
- Instruct your children never to talk to strangers.
- Parents should never leave children unattended. Educate your children never to go off with strangers. Your children should never roam the center or a store unsupervised.
- Children’s names should not be displayed on clothing, jewelry, T-shirts or school bags. Knowing a child’s name invites unwanted conversation with your child.
- If you lose sight of your child, immediately contact Security, requesting their help in the search. Be prepared to quickly describe your child in detail – age, height, weight, hair color and description of clothing.
- Teach your child to go to either of the mall’s Guest Services locations, a mall Security officer in uniform or a store salesperson to ask for help.
While these steps don’t guarantee you will not become the victim of crime, they will hopefully reduce your chances of falling prey to a criminal.
Sources: LAPD Crime Prevention Section/Simon Malls