Shop safely this holiday season

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Police, BBB offer advice

By Sarah Bennett

As holiday shopping season begins, officials warn consumers to stay alert and to not provide predators with an opportunity to scam, steal or pickpocket.

Officials advise shoppers to travel in pairs and have a plan in place before leaving the house, especially Friday when traffic will be heavy.

“Research where the sales are and make a list of your gift priorities to compare prices and plan your day of deals,” said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, vice president of communications for the Louisville-area Better Business Bureau.

Bryce Shumate, spokesman for Radcliff Police Department, said if you anticipate heavy traffic, map out your destinations beforehand and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination to avoid being upset or in a hurry.

Police said a high concern for shoppers should be remembering where their vehicle is parked.

Wandering around in search of a car could leave a shopper in danger of exposure to cold weather, Shumate said, but it also makes them an easy-to-spot victim for any thief hunting store parking lots for shopping bags and purses.

“Write down what row you’re in either in a checkbook or notebook,” he said. “Try to give yourself directions.”

Law enforcement also advise to park in a well-lit area and as close to your destination as possible.

Although it can happen any time of year, officials report a purse or a wallet snatched from an arm or shopping cart is a common narrative heard this time of year.

Virgil Willoughby, spokesman for Elizabethtown Police Department, said EPD took calls reporting two stolen purses Tuesday at Roses and Walmart.

“If you’re not paying attention, someone grabbing your purse can happen so quickly,” Willoughby said. “Just take those things that you need for that shopping trip. You’ll not be so burdened by stuff and your focus will be more on what you’re doing.”

If parents need to take small children along on shopping trips, Shumate encouraged shoppers to take another adult with them because it’s very easy for a small child to wander away or become lost in a large crowd.

When making a big shopping trip, Shumate said avoid carrying a lot of bags at once to your vehicle because that also makes you an easy-to-spot target.

If you plan to purchase a lot of items, he advised consumers to make one or two purchases at a time, carry those items to your vehicle, place them in the trunk and cover them before going back to buy more.

Police said if you are going to buy a large-ticket item, such as a television or computer, take it home immediately.

If you plan to buy a large item on Black Friday, Shumate suggested driving two vehicles. That way one driver can take the item home while the rest continue shopping.

“That way, it’s safe; it’s not sitting in a vehicle in a parking lot,” he said.

Smith-Hamblin advised consumers to make a budget, stick to it and beware of advertising that lures customers with significant discounts on big-ticket items, such as electronics, but the store may have only a few in stock.

The BBB suggests shoppers build a coupon collection and take advertisements with them in case prices are not what consumers expected.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.


Coming sunday: Officials give tips for safe online shopping.