Being distracted with shopping lists, bags and the holiday bustle could be the perfect setting for petty theft.
The Mayfield Heights Police Department Detective Joe Leskovec gives tips on how to protect yourself during the shopping season.
Patch: Who do thieves typically target during the season?
Det. Leskovec: In Mayfield we see repetitive targets toward the elderly. Female elderly are more targeted. And if you have kids thieves could see that you are too distracted to notice a theft. So always be aware of your surroundings.
Patch: What are the types of theft you see during the holidays?
Det. Leskovec: Typically, we see many wallet and credit card thefts. For women we advise to keep their purses close to their body. While shopping they tend to leave the purse in the shopping cart, they turn to look at item, turn back and it is gone. And they don't notice the purse is missing until they reach for it at the register. With men it is often pick pockets.
Patch: How can people avoid these scenarios?
Det. Leskovec: Besides being aware of your surroundings, we advise you go shop with one credit card. For instance if you are shopping at Target only carry your Target credit card. That way if something does get stolen you only have one credit card missing instead of all your credit cards.
Patch: Many stores are open for late night shopping. What can readers do to ensure they stay safe at night?
Det. Leskovec: Don't leave yourself vulnerable and be aware of your surroundings. If you are shopping at night I would walk with a friend to the parking lot. I would not recommend late night shopping alone. If you must shop late let someone know where you're at. Keep your bags close to yourself, and park near a light. Quickly put items in the car and get into the car immediately. So, don't leave the trunk open and slowly put bags in.
If you are approached, at first respectively decline what they want. If someone asks for help, they could jump in your car and steal it. So don't leave your car for any reason. It is a shame that if someone really needs help you may have to decline, but you have to protect yourself.
Patch: How can you avoid physical altercations?
Det. Leskovec: To avoid physical altercations shop during daytime hours, and park in the lighted part of the lot. Park close to the store. More and more stores have cameras outside. Parking near one can help. Always carry your cell phone, and don't be afraid to drop your bags and run if you have to. A car can be replaced and so can groceries.
Patch: What about shopping safe online?
Det. Leskovec: Look for the “www.https” in the web address. The “s” indicates the website is secure and you should only purchase products on a secure site. Also, check your credit card statement at least once a month to ensure fraudulent charges were not made.