ST. GEORGE – Whether its keeping an eye on personal items while shopping or making sure you haven’t left anything valuable in plain sight in your car, the St. George Police Department is offering the public tips on how to avoid being a victim of “a crime of opportunity.”
The Police Department rolled out the first in a series of short videos Monday on Facebook offering safety tips for the holiday season.
The video features St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin discussing “safety while shopping.”
“We want to remind you that while you’re shopping … keep your belongings safe and out of the hands of criminals,” Atkin says in the video. “That means not leaving your purse, or wallet or phone in the shopping cart and turning your back.”
The video shows a woman shopping in a store and leaving her purse in a shopping cart. While looking away from the cart, her purse gets snatched.
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Beyond the video, Atkin told St. George News that they recommend shoppers only take one credit or debit card and their phone and leave the purse at home.
In addition to keeping valuables safe inside the store, St. George News asked about avoiding vehicle theft in shopping center parking lots. Someone may be able to keep an eye on their purse or wallet while inside, but what about items left in the car during that time?
“If you have a trunk, keep your items in there,” Atkin said, adding that if a vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, valuable items should be kept out of sight as much as possible.
It’s a good idea not to hide items after pulling into a parking lot, she said. Rather, stop somewhere beforehand and hide the items so no one in the parking lot sees what you’re doing.
In you’ve bought items during your shopping run, take them home before heading to to next shop if possible, Atkin said.
“If there’s nothing of value in the car, all the better,” she said, adding that a potential thief won’t be drawn to something they can’t see.
Other tips Atkin included were to make sure windows are rolled up all the way and the car doors are locked before you go inside, and if it’s dark out, park in a well-lit area.
Having a situational awareness of the area around you is also advised.
“People need to be aware of who is around them and what is going on,” Atkin said. “Get off the phone and pay attention so you won’t be surprised.”
Other tips to consider while out shopping include the following:
- Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells or cars with tinted windows.
- Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.
- 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. Never leave them in the shopping cart unattended.
- Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.
In general the Police Department also ask the public to report anything that may appear suspicious. Officers from area police agencies have told St. George News on multiple occasions they would rather be called out on a potential false alarm than miss responding what may turn out to be an actual crime.
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