Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight wants to remind citizens of ways to shop smart and stay safe this holiday season. Patrol is increased in busy retails areas this time of year however, shoppers are encouraged to keep the following tips in mind when hitting the stores:
• Avoid shopping alone, particularly at night.
• Park in well-lit areas, lock vehicle doors and keep windows shut.
• Carry purses close to the body and don't reveal large amounts of cash.
• If using a shopping cart, never leave purses unsecured and keep them closed.
• Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
• Do not carry too many packages at one time.
• Approach your vehicle with keys already in hand.
• Do not leave your purse in the cart or place it on top of the vehicle when loading purchases.
• Place all packages out of sight, preferably in the trunk or a covered compartment.
• Never leave your vehicle running while you go into your home or into a store.
• Be wary of anyone approaching you. Some people may offer leaflets or ask for donations however, both scenarios can be a ploy to get your money or gifts.
• When driving home, be aware of vehicles that seem to be following you.
If you see anything suspicious or if a situation doesn’t feel right, leave the area immediately and contact store security or law enforcement.