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GPD urges shoppers to ‘be aware’

The Greenville Police Department is urging shoppers to stay alert this holiday season.

The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and while shoppers are looking for a good deal, thieves may be shopping for their next target.

The weeks leading up to Christmas are a busy time for both shoppers and retailers. It’s also a busy time for thieves. Lt. Justin Lovvorn of the Greenville Police Department said there is a number of things shoppers can do to help ensure they don’t become a victim of a crime this holiday season.

“The most important thing is to make sure to be aware of what’s going on around you at all times,” Lovvorn said.

  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If it is necessary to shop at night, go with a friend or family member.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or other items that will attract the attention of would-be thieves.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible. If you do carry cash, keep it in your front pocket.
    “You want to try not to attract a lot of attention when you’re out shopping,” Lovvorn said. “If you’re going to use cash, have it in a place that you can get to it quickly and put it up quickly. You don’t want to be fumbling around looking for it, and you don’t want to have it out long enough that everyone can take notice of how much cash you are carrying.”
  •  Stay alert to your surroundings.
    “It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on around you,” Lovvorn said. “Be aware of who is around you, and know who’s watching you. If you feel uncomfortable get to an area where there are more people.”
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. Keep a record of all of your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  •  Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.
  • Always keep car locked and keep valuables in the trunk.
    “Do not leave valuables or anything that could be perceived as valuable out in plain view in your car,” Lovvorn said. “Even if you have a jacket in the backseat, criminals have become accustomed to that and might think that it’s covering up a purse or something else of value and go ahead and take a chance and break into your car to see if there is something there. Go ahead and put it in the trunk.”
    Lovvorn said SUV drivers should also place items in the cargo hatch rather than leave them on the rear seat.
    “The windows on the rear of the vehicle are usually tinted darker, which would make the items more difficult to see,” he said. “Also, if someone is trying to break into the back, it’s more obvious than if they are on the driver’s side of the car. People may not think anything about seeing someone on the driver’s side, but it’s going to draw attention if they are trying to get into the back of the vehicle.”
  • Shoppers should park in well-lit, high-traffic areas.
    “The best thing you can do is park in area where there are going to be a lot of people that is well lit,” Lovvorn said. “It may be more convenient to park on the side of the building because it’s closer, but it may also put you at greater risk.”