Staying Safe While Shopping

Police Offer Tips For Black Friday, Cyber Monday

The Lexington Police Department has offered area residents some tips on how to stay safe during the holiday shopping season that kicks off after Thanksgiving.

“The holidays can be fun and exciting, but also stressful and hectic,” executive secretary Vicki Pickle shared at the Lexington Community Watch meeting last Wednesday evening at the police department. “It’s important to have a shopping list and a safety list.”

Pickle led a presentation on security tips for shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Lt. Nick Ramsey of the Lexington Fire Department was also present at the community watch meeting to discuss fire and home safety during the holidays. Ramsey’s advice will be published by The News-Gazette next week.

Holiday shopping can be absolute chaos, Pickle explained. Viral videos have often captured mobs in shopping malls and department stores with violence sometimes resulting. Shopping alongside high volumes of people can be a safety concern, particularly on Black Friday for the holidays.

“Stay alert to your surroundings,” Pickle advised. “Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.

“Invite a friend to go shopping with you,” she continued. “Not only is it fun to have someone to shop with, but there is also safety in numbers. You are less likely to be approached by someone with bad intentions if you are with a friend.”

Pickle suggested sticking to the old phrase, “If you see something, say something,” when it comes to safety concerns in stores. Speaking up to employees can save you and other shoppers from theft or harm, she offered.

“If you feel unsafe, often times there will be security that can walk you to your car.”

When your shopping trip is through, Pickle stressed maintaining clear visibility and freedom of motion leaving buildings.

“Avoid overloading yourself with packages,” she said. “Have your keys in hand walking through parking lots.”

Pickle suggested carrying car and house keys separately so that in the event of theft, assailants will not gain access to your home.

“Always park in well-lit lots and remember where you parked your car,” she continued. “Look in and around your vehicle before entering.” Remembering to lock your vehicle before and after shopping is important, she added.

Pickle also offered online safety tips for those planning to shop from home on Cyber Monday.

“Go directly to a store’s website instead of using a search engine looking for deals,” she said.

“Always give pop-ups and digital ads the evil eye,” she added, explaining fake coupons can lead to malicious sites and cybercriminals attempting to steal personal information. Fake deals often circulate through social media sites, Pickle said, so be wary of what appears on your accounts.

“Dump Cyber Monday emails with attachments in the virtual garbage,” Pickle continued, explaining such attachments can contain malware or harmful downloads.

When shopping online Monday, a padlock icon should appear in your browser to indicate a secure connection. Pickle explained not seeing a padlock icon can indicate a compromised site where your information can be accessed. Another way to ensure a website is legitimate is website links beginning with “https.” Pickle said any site beginning with the shortened “http” is not a legitimate site.

After Cyber Monday, many people have packages arriving to their doorstep this time of year. Pickle suggested having a neighbor look out for your mail deliveries, as well as keep a general eye on your home while you are away. In closing, Pickle reminded attendees that locking up doors and windows at home before heading out during the holiday season is always good practice.

The News-Gazette

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Lexington, VA 24450
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