How to keep your family safe during those holiday shopping trips

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It's about that time to strap on your walking shoes and head to the stores. But first, here are some tips to make your holiday shopping trips safe.

Driving:

• Avoid driving alone or at night.

• Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.

• If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.

• Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.

• Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.

• Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.

• Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.

• Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.

• Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.

• When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.

• Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

• If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located inside a police station, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.

• Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.

• Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.

Shopping

• Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

• Dress casually and comfortably.

• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

• Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible.

• Always carry your Ohio Driver License or Identification Card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.

• Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.

• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

• Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.

• Keep cash in your front pocket.

• Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.

• Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.

• Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, bus stops, on buses and other rapid transit.

• Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, "con-artists" may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

Children

• If possible, leave small children at home with a trusted babysitter.

• Teach your child to go to a store clerk and ask for help in case your child is separated from you.

• Teach children to stay close to you at all times while shopping.

• Never allow children to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom.

• Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car.

• Teach children their full name, address and telephone number to give to police officers or mall security. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.

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