The holiday shopping season presents a prime opportunity for thieves: loaded wallets and busy stores. As you’re debating which roast to buy and whether your aunt would actually like this sweater, crooks can make off with your purse or wallet and then use your cards on their own spending spree.
That’s why one police department is advising consumers to play it safe this season (and all year-long) by implementing a simple security mechanism.
“When using a shopping cart as you browse through the store, keep your purse zipped or closed and secure it to the cart by clipping the child safety belt through the strap(s),” the Windham Police Department wrote on Facebook. “This will help in preventing someone from taking advantage of your distraction and running off with the purse.”
It’s super simple, and it only takes 10 seconds to do. If your cart doesn’t have a belt, you can improvise your own device with an inexpensive carabiner clip. Keep it attached to your purse strap, and secure it to the cart that way, the post advises. (You can pick up several clips, and stick one in each of your bags so you never forget.)
The advice comes at the right time: An Oregon police department warned residents yesterday of a scam at a Trader Joe’s where one crook distracted older women while the other snatched their valuables. They’ve made off with six people’s credit cards and bought thousands of dollars worth of gift cards in the process.
A similar pickpocket scheme victimized Wisconsin consumers in November, with one woman asking elderly shoppers about finding items in the store while her companion lifted the cards.
Besides closing and securing your purse, other law enforcement agencies recommend these additional precautions:
- Staying alert of your surroundings
- Parking in well-lit areas and double-checking you’ve locked the car
- Hiding shopping bags in your trunk
- Carrying as little cash as possible and keeping it in your front pocket
- Shopping during daylight hours with friends or family members
- Notifying your credit card company immediately if your card is lost or stolen
- Staying wary of strangers who approach you for any reason