Police urge shopping safety

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2003

Let the shopper beware. Unlike the old business maxim "let the buyer beware," which warns buyers to be on their toes when making purchases, Andalusia's Police Chief Wilbur Williams sends the warning to those who have already made their purchases.

"First of all, we feel like it's most important for everybody to be aware of their surroundings," said Williams.

With the official Christmas shopping season beginning today, theft takes an upswing, said Wilbur and being observant and cautious will protect people most of the time.

"Take time to look and see," he said. "If you see a suspicious person, don't hesitate to call us because we're going to have people out to do the best we can to insure everybody's safety."

Williams said there are some basic tips to follow while shopping that can protect shoppers and their purchases.

"If they're going from store to store, conceal packages in the trunk, or if they're in an SUV or a van, they can keep them under some type of covering so they don't advertise what they have," he said. "Make sure the doors are all locked."

He suggests that shoppers go in groups of two or more.

"There truly is safety in numbers," he said.

Although there have only been a few isolated incidents of purse snatching in Andalusia in the three years Williams has been chief here, it can still be a problem, and he has tips to prevent that, as well.

"If the ladies can get away from these suitcases they carried and go with smaller hand clutches, it's better," he said. He emphasized that shoppers resisting their would-be thieves can cause more problems than they solve.

"If the purse is snatched hard enough, it can cause a lady to fall down, and can cause injuries," Williams said. "A few dollars is not worth it. If they don't have all their possessions with them, just the small clutch, they're not going to lose that much."

Home burglaries can also be a problem this time of year, with Christmas presents accumulating under the trees.

"Lock your doors and windows - be alert," said Williams. "We try to step up patrols this time of year."

The problem, Williams said, is that everything escalates during the holiday season, from complaints and traffic accidents to crimes like burglary.

"It spreads us a little thinner, but we try to be where we can do the most good," he said.