ST. CHARLES – As the city’s crime prevention officer, Bill Tynan doesn’t want residents to fall victim to a shopping crime this holiday season.
The St. Charles Police Department receives reports of such crimes throughout the year, he said, but it’s especially important for shoppers to take heed during the holiday season, which boasts bigger crowds and more distracting situations, such as 3 a.m. Black Friday deals.
The holidays present “more potential victims out there for offenders to take advantage of,” Tynan said. “Always have your guard up.”
He offered 10 tips for safe holiday shopping:
1. Pay attention to your valuables – bags, purses, wallets, phones – at all times, and avoid distractions, such as talking on your cellphone or listening to an MP3 player.
2. Wear purses across the front of your body or place wallets in a front pocket.
3. Do not carry large amounts of cash.
4. Beware of strangers who approach you or bump into you. It might not always be by mistake, and a team of people could be working together.
5. Conceal your PIN during transactions.
6. Throngs of shoppers can lead to frustrations, rage and mob violence. If in a mob scene, remain calm and carefully move outside the mob. Search out protective barriers, such as walls, and avoid bottlenecks.
7. Never park in an unlit or poorly lit parking lot.
8. Never leave packages visible inside your car. Store them in the trunk.
9. Have your keys in hand when approaching your car. Do not leave purses unattended while loading your car.
10. Check your account balances frequently – at least a couple of times a week – for unauthorized purchases.
Should your credit or debit cards be lost or stolen, Tynan recommended calling the credit card companies or banks before calling police.
Visit www.stcharlesil.gov or call Tynan at 630-377-4435 for more information.