Whether shopping in stores or online this holiday season, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station has some suggestions to help keep residents and their purchases safe during the busiest shopping days of the year.
“There’s going to be a lot of people out shopping, so we want everyone to be especially vigilant and not be distracted,” Shirley Miller, spokeswoman with the local sheriff’s Station, said Tuesday.
Deputies are expecting to see more shoppers at SCV stores, which means the opportunity for criminals to take advantage also increases.
In response, Miller said the station would be sending out additional patrols at shopping centers and malls, with deputies keeping watch on parking lots, and plainclothes officers in and around heavy foot-trafficked shopping locations.
Just last week, patrol deputies located and arrested five individuals on warrants for theft-related offenses.
“There will be a lot of opportunities for crimes to take place,” said Miller. “One way to avoid becoming a victim of theft is by leaving valuables out of sight in your car when you’re out doing your holiday shopping.”
That wasn’t the only thing to keep in mind. The SCV Sheriff’s station also suggests to follow these tips:
- Be smart about parking. Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.
- Never leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart.
- Ensure packages are delivered to a person. When having items shipped, consider having them shipped to your workplace. Most delivery companies will also offer the option of picking up the package at their facility.
Retail sales for the season could reach more than $700 billion, with 55 percent planning on shopping online, according to estimates by the National Retail Federation.
With a high percentage of online shopping expected, shoppers should also practice safe shopping on the internet. The Better Business Bureau has these tips for consumers:
- Protect your computer by installing a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Run virus scans regularly.
- Before entering credit card information, check a website’s security settings. If secure, the web address on the payment page should start with “https://.”
- Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming an issue with a purchase order or account. To confirm a problem, contact the business where the purchase was made.
“The public serves as our extra eyes and ears,” said Miller. “We encourage everyone to report suspicious activity.”
If you witness suspicious activity, you can call the station at 661-255-1121 and report it. If you see a crime in progress, call 911.