Police Encourage Safe Shopping This Holiday Season


The holiday season is notorious for increases in robberies and thefts as people stock up on gifts. Montgomery County Police are hoping a list of safety tips will help prevent some of the those crimes. Last week, the county announced the debut of its "Shop With a Cop," program. According to the county, police officers in all six police districts will patrol retail areas until Dec. 23 to provide extra security and remind shoppers to drive and walk safely in parking lots. Retail areas with added patrols include the central business districts of both Bethesda and Friendship Heights. The holiday safety tips, as provided by police, follow: When shopping:

  • Do not become distracted by your shopping.  Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Park in well-lighted parking lots and park as close to the mall or store as possible.
  • Lock your car doors and keep packages hidden in the trunk or under the seats of your vehicle.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash with you – pay with checks or credit cards when possible.
  • Ensure that you are not encumbered with a large number of packages.  Try to make trips back to your vehicle to store packages in the trunk as you continue to shop.
  • Carry your closed purse as close to your body as possible.
  • Carry a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
When out walking:
  • Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk with confidence and know where you are going.
  • Trust your instincts; if something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave the area.
  • Stick to well-lighted and well-traveled streets.  Avoid shortcuts through wooded areas, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Do not flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing.
  • Have your car or house key in hand before you reach the door.
  • If you think that someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street and walk toward an open store, restaurant, or lighted house.
  • If someone does try to rob you, don’t resist.  Give up your property – do not endanger your life.  Report the crime to police as soon as possible, and try to describe the attacker accurately.
At home:
  • If your Christmas tree can be seen through a window, do not display presents under the tree where they could be seen.
  • Make sure to lock doors and windows.
  • If you are going away for the holiday, let a neighbor know that your home will not be occupied and have someone keep an eye on your home.  Ask someone to pick up your mail and newspapers.
  • Place your lights on timers to give the appearance that someone is at home.
  • After the holidays, be sure to break down cardboard boxes from gifts for recycling so that a potential burglar does not know your home has a new computer, TV, video game system, etc.

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