Burnett & Williams

Holiday Shopping Safety

Holiday Shopping Safety

With the holidays upon us, how can you stay safe while out and about trying to cross things off of your shopping list?

Two Shoppers with Shopping Bags Reviewing Shopping List
Photo Shutterstock Lucky Business

The holidays are upon us, which for many people means a lot more shopping trips than usual! Sadly, all of that mall-going also means more potential opportunities for danger. Whether you’re running to the grocery store for last minute party supplies or searching the mall for a perfect gift for your loved one, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take extra precautions to keep yourself safe while you shop.  

Why is shopping during the holidays more dangerous?

During the holidays, it’s easier to be distracted and lose track of what and who is around you. Excitement is in the air, the stores are crowded, and you’ve got a list a mile long. This can mean that you’re not as mindful of your surroundings as usual, and the sad truth is that thieves look for opportunities like this to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Shoppers may be carrying more money with them for bigger purchases, store employees are extra-busy, and security personnel are dealing with a higher volume of shoplifting and other minor infractions than during less-busy times of the year. This makes it a bit of a perfect-storm situation for those trying to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers to nab a purse or steal a wallet.

What can you do to remain safe? 

There are a number of things you can do to help keep your holiday shopping experience a happy and safe one. The most important piece of advice we can give you is to stay alert as you navigate the hustle and bustle of the mall or other shopping area. Keep your eyes open for anything or anyone that strikes you as suspicious, and never hesitate to ask for help — a security guard will gladly walk you to your car, for instance, if you ask. Don’t shop with your earbuds in, or while you’re talking on the phone. A pick-pocket, or anybody else looking to make trouble, will likely target someone who looks distracted. If you keep your head up, walk with purpose, and act as if you know exactly where you are going, you are much less likely to be targeted by someone up to no good.

Credit Card Reader on Store Counter Processing Credit Card Transaction
Photo Shutterstock Seksan 99

If you can, shop with a friend or two, especially if you’re hitting the stores during evening hours. There is safety in numbers, and you are less likely to be the target of a theft or another crime if you aren’t alone. Try not to draw attention to yourself by wearing expensive jewelry or flashy clothing — looking like you might spend a lot of money makes you a more appealing target for someone who might try to snatch your bags or pickpocket your wallet. 

Although it’s not wise to be immersed in a phone conversation while you shop, it is a good idea to have your cell phone out and in your hand or front pocket so you can call for help if needed. You might also consider carrying a canister of pepper spray with you, to use if you ever are approached by a threatening individual. And trust your instinct — if you have a hunch that a situation isn’t safe or a person is shady, get yourself out of there and find security personnel, a store employee, or a police officer to help you.

Parking lots are places where you can be especially vulnerable to crime while you’re out shopping. Always park in a well-lit area, scan around and in your car as you approach it, and have your keys out and at the ready so that you’re not fumbling in your bag as you’re trying to unlock the doors. Remember to lock your doors as soon as you get in your vehicle, and don’t linger in the parking lot looking at your phone or going through your bag. 

All of us here at Burnett and Williams hope that you’re enjoying this holiday season, even when it includes last-minute trips to the store!