Sheriff: Shoppers should be cautious holiday shopping

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shopper Angela Stallworth shops during last year’s Black Friday. | File photo




Shoppers will arrive in droves to take advantage deals found on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the season, and as a few words of advice, Sheriff Dennis Meeks recommends that shoppers remember one thing – “Out of sight, out of mind.”

He said the motto applies to many aspects of holiday safety, including purses or baggage carried while shopping to storing purchases from prying eyes.

“Larger is not always safer,” Meeks said of purses and shopping bags. “It gives a potential crook a better opportunity to grab. A smaller something that can be clutched is preferable. Keep it close to the body and clutched in the arm.”

Meeks said purses should always be kept in the bottom of the buggy.

“It would be very easy for someone to just walk by, snatch your purse out of the top part and run off,” he said. “Purses should be kept in the bottom and preferably covered by something.”

Meeks said if accosted, “then I certainly recommend you do not resist.”

“If the circumstance presents itself, then it is certainly best to release the property,” he said. “Not even a small injury is worth maintaining possession of a purse or property. Let them have it.”

Shoppers should also protect their financial information, credit cards and checks, Meeks said.

“Do not leave them unattended and always have the carbon copy destroyed on charges,” he said. “Be careful not to flash large sums of cash or valuables; most criminals are opportunists. Always keep your receipts for returns and for identification purposes. Report thefts immediately to the appropriate law enforcement agency.”

Meeks said residents should always place purchases and other valuable items out of sight when leaving the vehicle, adding that vehicles should always be parked in well-lit areas.

“Pull up; park; turn the engine off, and take a moment to take in the surroundings before exiting the vehicle,” he said. “Most of the parking areas around here are well lit, but if you are out at night be sure the area you park is well lit.”

Meeks added that it is always good to have a partner, most times more than one partner, when shopping.

“Make it an outing,” he said. “Rather than just taking children, try to have at least one more adult. This is not really important for around here, but it’s especially important for those choose to go to Dothan, Montgomery or Pensacola. These things are certainly more applicable in the larger urban areas than they are here.”

Residents who do have plans to travel out of town for the holidays for shopping or other reasons should make sure family members are left with pertinent information prior to the trip, he said.

“Be sure someone in the family has some idea of where you are going and an estimate of when you are expected to be there,” he said. “Let someone know the approximate time you expect to arrive and make sure you have some means of contacting them in case of an emergency.”