COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The holiday shopping season is in full swing and so are the thieves. The happiest time of the year gives crooks opportunities to steal your purchases.
There are a number of ways to stay safe this holiday season. One major key is to always beware of your surroundings. Do not be distracted by your phone while walking to or leaving a store.
Jeff Pitts, public information specialist with Columbia police, says to always park in well lit areas.
Once you park your car it's important to look around before stepping out of you vehicle and make sure your gift purchases are always hidden.
"Try to put any packages you get in a area such as a trunk, backseat maybe covered by a coat or a blanket or something where is it not visible from the outside," says Pitts.
While shopping always keep your doors locked even if you are running into a convenient store.
Pitts says, "People will walk around parking lots and do what is called door checking, so they will look for unlocked cars."
Pitts also suggest using tracking apps on your cell phone to track family and friends. If you have to shop at night do not shop alone.
"It's always a good idea to travel with someone or to let someone know where your going, what time you're going to be there, how long you're going to be there for, stuff like that," Pitts said.
Jeff recommends if you are carrying a purse to keep it close to you or on you. It's easy to leave purses or bags unintended while shopping.
If you do not feel safe ask an employee to escort you out of the store to ensure you drive away safe.
There is a tool called "Report It" that will let you store serial numbers, item descriptions, pictures and scans of receipts so your items are easy to be identified in the event of a theft. ReportIt.LeadsOnline.com