Be safe when shopping

Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 26, 2009

‘Tis the season to be shopping — especially with Black Friday sales hitting the shelves tomorrow morning. But, residents should exercise a degree of caution when getting those must-haves for this holiday season.

“Leave home early and avoid the last-minute rush,” Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams said. “Be aware of your surroundings both inside of businesses and in route to and from the business. Take a couple of minutes to look around and make sure you see what is hanging around the parking lots.

“It’s better to shop with a friend, especially in the larger market areas if you find it necessary to shop outside of the friendly confines of Andalusia; however, all residents are encouraged to shop at home this holiday season,” he said. “Spend your money locally and help us maintain our economy, and when you get your merchandise back to the car, place valuables out of sight, like in the trunk or covered by some type of covering in the back of SUV’s.

“And if it will be after dark, make sure the area is well lighted for your protection,” he said.

Williams said businesses should also call the police department for escorts to the bank.

On a more personal level, Opp’s assistant police chief Mike McDonald offered these tips for shoppers:

Shop in groups.

Maintain a firm grasp on your purse or handbag.

Park in a public area and when you return to your vehicle, have your keys ready so that you can rapidly enter your vehicle.

Maintain tight control of your credit cards and your debit card at all times.

Always be aware of what is going on around you. If you see a suspicious situation, move away from it.

Take a cell phone on shopping trips so that you can call for assistance as required.

“And don’t be afraid to call if you’re in need of assistance,” each said.