Put Safety on Your Holiday Shopping List

You should have gone home after work to get some shoes more suitable for shopping, but you went straight to the mall because the holiday clock was ticking and the to-do list reached from here to forever.

Then you should have moved the car closer to the mall doors after you took that first load of presents to the vehicle, but you were in a huge hurry to get back to that department store where, evidently, you left your credit card. In your rush to recover your card, you left all the new goodies sitting in plain sight on the back seat, and you are fairly certain you forgot to lock the car.

And then you should have gotten some help with this last load of packages, but now you are alone, overloaded, and staggering through a nearly empty parking lot after closing time. You are headed for a poorly lighted corner of the lot, and your purse, with a wad of cash you thought you might need, is hanging loosely from your shoulder like ripe fruit ready to be picked.

OK, the only thing this harried shopper's story omits is the feeling of having her belly turn to stone when she turns around and discovers that her 5-year-old has wandered out of sight in a vast department store. There is, however, redemption in this horror story: It is better to imagine these circumstances and then avoid them than to have any of them become a bad holiday shopping memory.

Shopping Tips for Safe Holidays

Just to be safe, let's start with the tips our shopper could have used:

  • Dress comfortably and casually.
  • Park in a well-lighted area that is as close to the doors as possible.
  • Be sure to lock the car and close the windows, and use anti-theft devices if you have them.
  • Conceal all valuables. The trunk is the best spot.
  • Don't carry so much stuff that you can't easily get your hands free to defend yourself, and have your keys in hand as you approach your car.
  • Carry your purse close to your body, and keep your wallet in an interior coat pocket or a front pants pocket.
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash, and keep the cash you do carry in a pocket that others can't easily reach without you noticing.
  • Use credit, debit, or gift cards, and protect them from prying eyes during purchases.
  • If you lose a credit card, contact the company as soon as possible. (Keep a record of all card numbers in a safe place at home.)
  • Teach your children to approach a store clerk or security guard for help in case you get separated. For older kids, pick a spot to meet up in case you are separated.

There are other steps you can take to stay ahead of thieves - who work overtime during the holidays because there are so many potential victims carrying so much valuable stuff and cash:

  • Shop during the day if you can, and don't go alone if you have to go at night.
  • Don't wear expensive jewelry.
  • Beware of pickpockets in crowded areas. They sometimes work in teams, with one distracting you while the other does the snatching. Instead of a purse or wallet, carry a security travel pouch. (Con artists also are looking for people willing to part with cash or valuables.)
  • Stay alert and always be aware of what's going on around you.
  • Never - ever - step away from your vehicle while it's running.

There comes a time, though, when safety tips don't help.

When things beyond your control result in harm to you or a loved one - whether you are injured by a careless driver in a parking lot, dangerous conditions on store property, or if you are a victim of a third-party crime on store property and the danger should have been foreseen and averted by the store - it's too late for safety tips. That's when you should turn to a skilled Florida attorney for help demanding compensation and justice.

Legal Questions? Contact Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenthal, Levy, Simon & Ryles have been serving the communities of West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie for more than three decades. If you have questions about a potential case, call or go online today for a free and confidential consultation. You'll quickly discover that our philosophy is summed up in a single word: service.

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