The San Mateo Police Department is offering the following safety tips to keep in mind while shopping for the holidays.
BEFORE YOU SHOP
- Beware of Burglars who target homes while shoppers are out – secure all doors and windows!
- Carry a cell phone, if you have one, and make sure you have SMPD’s Dispatch number – 650-522-7700 – programmed on your speed-dial.
- Carry only small amounts of cash
- Shop during daylight hours whenever possible—or go with a friend if you shop at night (or the pre-dawn sales).
- Carry keys, credit cards and cash separate from each other.
- Be extremely careful and watchful when using ATM machines.
- Wear conservative, comfortable clothing, and minimal jewelry.
- While driving, keep your doors locked and windows rolled up – including in the parking lot.
- Maintain at least half a tank of fuel
- If you have to carry a purse, carry it close to your body and keep it zipped.
- Park close to where you are going and park in a well-lit area.
- Heighten your awareness – be aware of your surroundings and who is nearby.
- Grip carried items firmly and do not leave them unattended.
- Do not overload yourself with packages to maintain visibility and freedom of motion, and to avoid mishaps
- Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
- When hurried or in a crowded shop, take the time to make sure you get all forms of ID and credit cards returned to you before leaving.
- Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost or stolen.
- Keep a record of all credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
- Keep a close eye on children while shopping.
- Leave the mall before closing time; it is safer to walk out of the mall with other people.
- Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distraction with the intent of taking your money or belongings.
- Use an escort or mall security if you have a lot of packages or if you are leaving the mall after closing.
- When returning to your vehicle, carry your keys in your hand and be ready to unlock the door and enter as quickly as possible.
- Check under your car as you approach it; this is a common spot for criminals to hide.
- Check the interior of your car before entering.
- After opening gifts, break down cardboard boxes of expensive electronics and put them somewhere out of public view prior to disposal, to hide the fact you have new high-value items in your home.