Because shoppers usually carry more cash and have more merchandise, crimes involving theft are more frequent during the holiday season, police said.
Sgt. Danny Gibbs said being alert about safety should begin as soon as shoppers park their cars.
“When parking, looking for a space where the driver’s side door faces the building to enable a clear view of the path from the car to the store and back,” he said.
Parking in well-lit areas and keeping valuables out of sight is also important.
“Auto break-ins are more frequent this time of year because shoppers will leave merchandise in plain view. Valuables should always be secured in the trunk,” Gibbs said.
Once inside the store, shoppers should be aware of where their purses and wallets are at all times.
“Do not put purses or wallets in a shopping cart because thieves target shopping carts when the person’s back is turned or the shopper is distracted,” Gibbs said.
He said many times a thief will take a wallet out of a woman’s purse and a shopper doesn’t realize the theft has occurred until she attempts to pay for the merchandise.
If a crime does occur, Gibbs said the most important thing to do is call 911 immediately.
“Shoppers should not wait until they get home to report a theft or other crime,” he said.
Gibbs also said victims should try to get a good description of the perpetrator and remember specific details if possible.
“Hairstyle and color, clothing descriptions, height, weight, skin or eye color and if the person is on foot or in a vehicle are good details that will help police assist fast and accurately,” he said.
If the perpetrator flees in a vehicle, theft victims should give a description of its make, model, color and tag number, if possible.
Sgt. Joey Smith of the Henry County Police Department said shoppers who are alert can protect themselves and each other.
“We want to keep shoppers safe, so if any suspicious activity occurs, it should be reported immediately,” he said.