Aside from the good old-fashioned stroll through the malls and browsing store windows, shopping online is an extremely convenient way to purchase holiday gifts. The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station reminds buyers of some important safety tips while shopping both ways – physically while out and about, and online:
When online, shop at secure websites. If the site is not well-known, research the site or the hosting company online by accessing the Better Business Bureau site or the site that hosts the shopper’s anti-virus and anti-spyware provider before making transactions. Even simply researching the site on search sites such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing can be helpful. This, in most cases, will make raise awareness of potential problems with the site or the vendor.
When paying, make sure the website address begins with “https” (the “s” at the end means it’s secure). Make sure that the bottom status line of the browser displays the symbol for secure data transmission (usually displayed as a padlock on the bottom right). This also means the website encrypts the information it sends.
Packages that sit on a porch or door step are more likely to be stolen. There have been cases when thieves will drive behind a delivery truck and wait for the driver to leave the package on the porch or doorstep and then steal the package. Always try to request signature confirmation on deliveries. This will ensure that the delivery person won’t leave the package unattended. If possible, send the package to a place of work, to a relative or to a neighbor that is home during the time of the delivery and is expecting the package, so someone will sign for it. Another way to be assured of receiving the package is to arrange for pick-up at the carrier’s point of distribution rather than having the package delivered. This can usually be done fairly easily by phone and having the tracking number handy.
For those who prefer to shop in the store, remember the holidays are a busy time of year and everyone has a lot on their mind. Criminals are looking to take advantage of shoppers while at their busiest.
Remember these tips when out shopping for holiday gifts:
Hold any bags or purses containing valuables close to the body, with the opening facing inward. If the bag is equipped with carrying straps, use them. When two people are walking together, bags or purses should be maintained between the two people.
Stow purchases in the trunk of the vehicle. It may be tempting to throw purchases in the back seat of a vehicle and continue shopping. If purchases are in plain view, a shopper may return to find the car windows smashed and presents stolen.
Save the most expensive purchases for last, then head straight home. Make major purchases such as computers, television sets, jewelry, etc. separate shopping days. This allows focusing on the items to not only prevent potential theft, but also it prevents damage caused to them by being poorly secured during transport and/or by being accidentally mishandled.
When purchasing major or expensive items, be aware of surroundings. Thieves have been known to follow customers from vendors and stores to places such as restaurants, even their homes, to steal the newly purchased items while the attention of the customer is diverted elsewhere.
Never leave your purchases unattended, even for a few minutes.
Anyone who sees any suspicious activit
y, either close to home or while out shopping, can call the sheriff’s station at (818) 248-3464 or dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.