Situational Awareness + the Holidays
This time of year
The Holiday season is full of
All the hustle and bustle going on over the holidays gives thieves what they want, almost as much as an unlocked bank vault, and that is the opportunity to become invisible. By being as nondescript as possible, they can move through big crowds of rushed and distracted people without anyone noticing them. They can pickpocket and shoplift, when their victims realize that they have been robbed, they will have no idea who did it.
Thieves feed on opportunities. Thieves know that the police are overloaded during the holiday season and they take full advantage of it. They thrive on the fact that the police and stores’ loss prevention staff have their hands full with amateur thieves who are hauled to jail for trying to steal from the electronics departments or waiting for the parents of pre-teens who pocketed the latest video game. In the meantime, the professional thieves are busy breaking into cars in the parking lots to steal gifts, cell phones, electronics, etc.
Holiday shopping is hectic and fun, but can definitely be dangerous. Developing situational awareness habits can keep you and your family safe and enjoining the season. Being aware of one’s surroundings and identifying potential threats or dangerous situations is a mindset. Knowledge is power, and you can give yourself the tools to be prepared for any situation. Learn to trust your gut. Recognize when you are rushed, distracted or stressed out, and stay alert to what is going on around you.
Tips & Tricks
Avoid driving alone or at night. If you must shop at night, park in a well-lit area, park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked. It may take several trips around the parking lot to find a safe spot, but it is worth the effort! Some malls offer valet services, and while you are paying for the service it can be well worth the expense to keep yourself and your
When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area. Check the back seat before getting in. Consider asking mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.
Many stores extend hours late into the night. People head to the stores after work, then at
Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, con-artists may try various methods of distracting you, including working in teams, with the intention of taking your money, belongings or worse. Murderer Ted Bundy would typically approach his victims in public places, feigning injury or disability, or impersonating an authority figure, before
If possible, leave children at home with a trusted babysitter. If you must shop with your kids, always teach them to stay close to you. Never allow them to make unaccompanied trips to the restroom or to the cars. Instruct them to ask a store clerk or uniformed security guard for assistance if they become separated from you! Make sure they know how to identify
Keep a LOW PROFILE
Don’t leave packages
But stay VISIBLE
Use ATM’s only in well-lit, public places. Be aware of anything that doesn’t look right – ATM skimmer devices may have been installed by thieves to steal card numbers and PINS. If there are people loitering in the area, find another terminal.
And stay MOBILE
Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion if you are approached.
Learn how to control distance with another person, how to defend yourself and escape an attacker and how to effectively use pepper spray and other non-lethal tools. Keep yourself and your
Commonsense and awareness can go a long way toward helping you and your family stay safe this holiday season. If you’re unsure of your surroundings or situation, (either in person or online), get away and report the suspicious behavior. It’s better to be safe than sorry!