Shopping Smart and Safe During the Holiday Season

- WINCHESTER, Va. - As the holiday shopping season kicks into full gear this week, shoppers are expected to be out late Thanksgiving night into early Black Friday morning, and it is all because of big bargains.
The chaotic holiday scene has yet to begin; with stores opening earlier this year on Thanksgiving Day, more people will be out and about.
"The mall gets pretty busy at Christmas time," said Larry Nelson, director of mall marketing of Apple Blossom Mall.
However, shoppers will not be the only ones on the road. It is a popular time for criminals to lure around as well.
"Thieves are always looking for people walking alone in the parking lot, and we also advise people to put their cell phones away," said Nelson.
The Winchester Police Department will have extra patrols on those two days, but suggest everyone to have a shopping buddy if possible.
"Make sure that you're going in and out of stores with someone. If you don't have anybody with you, be sure to ask someone from security to escort you out," said Lauren Cummings, crime prevention specialist.
Keep your items close, as thieves like to wait for the snatch and grab opportunities.
"Make sure you're parking in well-lit areas of parking lots, making sure that you're able to see what's going on around your car, making sure nobody's near your car while you're getting in," said Cummings.
With shoppers paying less attention to their belongings because of the hustle and bustle, they become an easy target for shoplifting.
Retailers say shoplifting is also prevalent during the holidays.
"If they're going out shopping, make sure they're locking their car doors in parking lots and also at home. We've had a number of vandalism from motor vehicles just in the past two weeks," said Cummings.
With these tips in mind, it can get everyone home safely while shopping smart and shopping safe.
Police are reminding shoppers to report any suspicious activity immediately.

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