Avoid being a target for thieves

Posted at 12:55 PM, Dec 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-20 13:27:45-05

CHESTERFIELD, Va (WTVR) -- The last-minute holiday shopping rush is underway, and while stores are trying to lure you in with extended hours shoppers also need to be careful about thieves looking to cash in.

Many stores are staying open late, to cater to procrastinating shoppers.  But it's important to remember thieves will also be out waiting and watching.  They are hoping shoppers will get caught up in the mad dash for last-minute bargains, and let their guard down.

"We are telling people make sure you look alert, you want to be less of a victim," Henrico Lt. Linda Toney said.  "If you are talking on your phone, fumbling for your keys, it may be easier for people to try and distract you.  So walk with a purpose; have your keys out, your phone out, know what you are doing and stay safe."

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips:
-Shop during the day.
-Don't go alone; shop with friends or a group.
-If you have to be out late, park in well-lit areas.
-If you're carrying a purse keep it close, try carrying it under your coat.
-Avoid wearing too much jewelry.
-Avoid distractions from electronics; including high-tech phones.
-Keep the majority of your credit cards at home.
-Don't travel with a lot of cash.

"I just keep my eyes open and park near things that are convenient, when you have to carry an infant and your packages all at the same time," shopper Denise Bowman said."

"Be aware of where you are and know where you are going, and look like you know where you are going," Cpl. Tim Lamb with Chesterfield's Crime Prevention Department said.  "Before people return to their cars, we want them to pay attention to their surroundings as well.  And if they see anything that is suspicious while they are out-and-about at all we want them to call us and to let us know what's going on."

Some of the stores offering extended hours include: