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Tips For Last-Minute Shoppers From The Sheriff's Department

lasd_holiday_wreath_copyHere's a message for last-minute holiday shoppers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

With the increased demands on our time and attention this time of year, we are more vulnerable to crime and accidents. Take a few moments to review the following tips before you head out shopping and celebrating, confident that you are prepared.

Parking Lots:
* When walking through parking lots, be aware of your surroundings.
* Always park where there is plenty of light between your car and the store.
* Keep your car locked and have your keys in hand before you go to your car.
* Before leaving your vehicle, make sure there isn’t anything of value in sight, including cell phones, GPS units or holiday purchases.


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Shopping:
* Shop with a friend or relatives; there is safety in numbers.
* Don’t leave your purse unattended (even for a few seconds) in your cart.
* Don’t carry large amounts of money; keep money in a front pocket.
* Only carry one or two credit cards, and make sure you secure them after use.

Shopping with Children:
* Always supervise your children in public places; accompany young children to the restroom.
* Teach young children to go for help if they get separated from you; teach them to look for a cashier or uniformed security guard.
* If you must allow your teenage children to shop without you, have them take a friend, check in with you on a regular basis and have a set time and place to pick them up.

Shopping Online:
* Making purchases online is a way to avoid the crowded shopping centers, but use caution; only shop at sites that begin with “https.” That indicates the site is secure.
* Stick with established retailers and retailers from our local community with a presence online; shopping locally is good for the local economy and more secure.
* If you are shopping with an unfamiliar retailer, look them up on the Better Business Bureau website or do a Google search for complaints regarding the retailer.
* Keep tabs on your account online; check off receipts and watch for any unauthorized activity.

At Home:
* Don’t display your gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
* Lock doors and windows when you leave the house.
* Use only UL-listed extension cords, lights and Christmas ornaments; don’t overload outlets or electrical boxes.

Driving:
* When celebrating away from home, don’t drink and drive.
* Choose a designated driver before heading out.
* If hosting a party, provide refreshments for designated drivers and arrange transportation for guests who should not drive home.
* If possible, avoid driving during the early and late evening hours on Christmas and New Year’s.
* Protect yourself and passengers by wearing a safety belt at all times, in case of a crash.

If we all follow these common-sense tips, we can enjoy a safe and merry Christmas and a happy holiday season.