KCSO offers tips for safe shopping

The holidays have arrived and shoppers are out looking for gifts for family members and friends.

Capt. Robbie Lawson, Knox County Sheriff’s Office liaison for Farragut, warned shoppers to be aware as thieves also are on the lookout.

“Always be more careful, prepared and aware during the holiday season,” he said.

While shopping, he advised people should keep all vehicle doors locked while in or out of their cars and set the car’s alarm.

Lawson also advised people to avoid driving alone or at night.

“If you must shop at night, park in a well-lit area,” he said. “Use the buddy system and shop with a friend. You’re more likely to become a target if you’re alone.”

Lawson advised shoppers to avoid parking next to vans or cars with tinted windows, remember where you parked and have keys ready when returning to the car.

“Hide purchases from view in your parked car to prevent break-ins,” Lawson said.” Lock valuables and packages in the trunk or put them out of sight. Consolidate packages so you’re a less desirable target for criminals looking to steal your belongings.

“And, secure [packages] before you reach the parking lot. Thieves watch for people hiding items while in the parking lot.”

While walking to the car, he said women should keep a secure hold on their purses and packages.

“Always be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “Do not approach your car alone if anyone seems suspicious in the area. Ask store security for an escort to your vehicle.”

Lawson also recommended people should dress comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

“Wear your purse across the body to keep your hands free for your keys when heading to your vehicle and into your home,” he said.

Shoppers also should keep track of credit purchases.

“Keep a record of all your credit card numbers in a safe place at home,” Lawson said. “Pay for purchases with a credit card or check instead of carrying large amounts of cash. If you must carry cash, keep it in your front pocket.”

Shoppers also should be careful of what they post online.

“Don’t alert others that you aren’t home while you’re out shopping,” Lawson said.

He also warned shoppers to be “just as vigilant about your surrounds during the daylight hours. A crime can occur at any time.

“Stay alert while walking to your vehicle,” Lawson said. “Talking or texting on your phone or looking in your purse for your keys while walking is a distraction and makes you an easy target.

“Check the back seat for potential criminals before getting in your car. Carry your keys in your hand while you are walking toward your vehicle and pick a parking space that’s easy to back out of so that you can leave the parking lot quickly,” he said.

To prevent thefts while out shopping, Lawson recommends asking to have packages delivered.

“Though this costs extra, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of carrying your purchases to the car and then unloading them when you get home,” he said. “Women carrying a lot of packages often are targets for criminals because such shoppers are distracted and not as mobile.”