The top item on the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office list of tips for safe holiday shopping would seem to be a matter of common sense, but it is a frequent cause of trouble.
Make sure to keep your vehicle doors locked.
Deputy Linda Howard, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, said thefts of items from cars happen frequently during the holiday season. Too often, she said, people make it easy for the criminals.
“Around this time, we get calls that a car has been broken into, and then we get there and nothing is broken,” she said. “They just left the door unlocked.”
It’s not that people leave their doors unlocked as a matter of habit, she said, but it’s more common that they just forget. Another problem is that rear gates on SUVs or hatchbacks are not closed completely.
Shoppers often go from store to store making purchases and leaving items in cars visible to thieves, enticing them to try to get in the car.
The sheriff’s office recommends keeping valuables in the trunk while shopping and to empty it once arriving at home. Howard said people often hide presents inside cars until Christmas, but that’s not a good idea.
People also should be wary around crowds while shopping. Howard said she shopped Thursday night and saw many women leaving their purses in their shopping cart, where they could be easily snatched. She advised that women always should have their purse on them when shopping.
A news release from the Warner Robins Police Department also cited not locking car doors and not leaving purses in carts as top issues during the holiday season.
Both departments also warn people against making posts on social media about vacation plans, which can tip off burglars when a home will be vacant.
Additionally, shoppers are advised to not shop alone whenever possible, park and walk in well lit areas after dark, stay aware of surroundings and suspicious people, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry or carrying large amounts of valuables.
It’s also a good idea to keep a list of credit card numbers in a secure place in case the cards are lost or stolen.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.