It is that time of the year again and people are shopping up a storm! Lots of people will be out spending lots of money, but there is one group to be mindful of that I have written about before: opportunists. These are the “unconventional shoppers” that watch the rest of us to see what we have that they might like to acquire.
The following are tips that I found on the S.F. SAFE website with regards to safeguarding ourselves and preventing crime.
Personal safety: When out shopping after dark, go with a friend or as a group, and always park in well-lighted and heavily traveled areas. Be alert, look confident, and walk with a purpose. Be aware of your surroundings (you have heard this before) and anyone approaching you or your car. If someone demands your purse, wallet, iPhone, etcetera, surrender it immediately as it is not worth injury or your life.
Home burglary prevention: If you are traveling, prepare before you leave and ask a neighbor to watch your house. If you have an alarm, set it; and if you have any automatic lighting, use it. Have newspapers, mail and deliveries held or picked up by someone you trust. Gifts and valuables should be kept out of sight and away from windows. It is always a good idea to record the serial number of any item you own that has one, especially bicycles as they are commonly stolen in garage burglaries. When entering your apartment building’s common front door (or garage), do not let anyone you don’t know slip in behind you. A non-criminal will understand your reasons for not allowing them to enter. And if someone is acting suspiciously, please call us to investigate – for non-emergencies call 415-553-0123, or in an emergency dial 911.
Avoid auto break-ins: I can’t say it often enough: DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING YOU WOULD MIND LOSING IN YOUR PARKED AND UNATTENDED CAR.
Pickpocket and identity-theft prevention: When out shopping, bring only the cash and credit cards you will need. Keep cash separate from identification and credit cards and try to carry them in your pockets. Your purse or wallet may be a target for criminals in crowded shopping areas, bus stops, and even on buses. Be aware of those creating distractions – those innocent bumps may be someone removing your valuables as they pass. I have even seen someone place his coat on the back of his chair and reach through the sleeve of the coat into the purse of an unsuspecting patron in a coffee shop (all captured on video), and before that victim left the coffee shop, the suspect had already made charges on her credit cards. When you become engrossed in your handheld electronic device (iStuff), your awareness level is compromised and you could become the target of opportunist criminals observing your actions.
Overall, a simple message will help us all prevent crime: Be aware of your surroundings and conceal your valuables.