Some safe-shopping tips from the Sheriff’s Department |

Some safe-shopping tips from the Sheriff’s Department

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Bargain shoppers get an early start on their holiday shopping on Black Friday at Gottschalks in Carson City. Police say shoppers should take only one credit/debit card, if possible and not large amounts of cash, a checkbook or a large handbag to help keep themselves safe while shopping.

With Christmas shopping in full swing, Lt. Ken Sandage, of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, said the main parking lots of area retailers will be staffed with sheriff’s volunteers and reserve officers to deter thieves. Sandage also offers the following holiday safety tips.

Safety tips for holiday shopping:

• Lock your car and make sure you have a spare key. If you have a remote, remember the keys will still open the car doors.

• Take only one credit/debit card, if possible. Do not take large amounts of cash, a checkbook or a large handbag. It is best if you carry your credit cards, cash and checks in your front pocket. This will lessen the chance of them being lost or stolen. It would be a good idea to make a copy of all of your credit cards and important papers you carry in your wallet. Leave it in a secure place at home. If your wallet is lost or stolen, report all missing credits cards to your credit card company and notify the Sheriff’s Department immediately.

• Be aware of your surroundings. Do not overload yourself with packages. Look around as you walk to the parking lot. Do not leave packages out in the open in your car. Lock all packages in your trunk. Try to park in a well-lit area of the parking lot and stay out of desolate areas.

• Don’t shop alone; always try to shop with a friend. This will help in passing the time and provide safety in numbers. It will also allow for one person to “run in to pick up something” while the other person waits outside. When parking your car, be courteous and do not park in fire lanes and handicapped parking spaces. These are violations of state and local law, and you could be cited.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 and leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.

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

• Ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.

• If you must use an ATM, choose one that is inside a mall or in a well-lit 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.

• Always carry your Nevada driver’s license or identification card along with necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use.

• Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.

• 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.

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

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

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

• 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.

Safety tips at home:

• Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.

• When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.

• Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.

• Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.

• Large displays of gifts should not be visible through your windows and doors.

• When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doors and passageways are clear inside your home.

• Be sure your tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over onto themselves.

• If you use lights on your tree, ensure that the wiring is not damaged or frayed, which can cause a fire.

• Place your tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.

• Never burn wrapping paper in your fireplace.

Operation Identification:

The goal of Operation Identification is to deter property-related crime and assist the department in its efforts to find and return stolen or lost property to its rightful owner. Remember the following:

• Mark gifts with your driver’s license or identification card number. Do not use your Social Security number.

• Photograph or videotape items that cannot be marked with an engraver.

• Be aware that criminals sometimes pose as couriers delivering gifts.

• It is not uncommon for criminals to take advantage of the generosity of people during the holiday season by soliciting donations door-to-door for charitable causes although no charity is involved.

• Ask for solicitors’ identification, and find out how the donated funds will be used. If you are not satisfied, do not donate.

• Donate to recognized charitable organizations.