Haralson County Sheriff Eddie Mixon says even with the tough economy, stores and malls will still be filled with thieves working overtime. According to Sheriff Mixon, “Reports of car break-ins and general theft are always higher during this time of year. We want to help shoppers protect themselves better this year than they have in years past.”
Sheriff Mixon urges residents to consider shopping locally and avoid the crowds and unfamiliar surroundings at unfamiliar locations. Mixon’s office has issued eight precautions to take while shopping in crowded stores and malls.
Haralson County District Attorney Jack Browning echoes Mixon’s advice. Browning adds that those who might be thinking of using the holiday rush to commit a crime should think twice, “Some think of shoplifting and breaking in a parked car as petty crimes – I do not. The prosecutors in my office understand that I anticipate that crimes of this nature will be treated very seriously.”
As for some practical tips to avoid becoming a crime victim, Sheriff Mixon offers the following tips:
· Be aware of your surroundings. Look for suspicious persons, etc. when you are in any area.
· 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. If you are shopping at a mall, keep in mind the time the store from which you enter the mall closes; 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.
· Shop in pairs at the very least. Take a friend or family member shopping with you. There is something to be said for safety in numbers.
· As you return to your car, make sure to keep your car key in your hand.
· 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.
· 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.
Sheriff Eddie Mixon knows that 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.