Police offer safety advice for holiday shoppers – Avoid distractions

DES PERES, Mo. - Police warn that distractions make people easy targets during the busy holiday shopping season.

Des Peres Department of Public Safety Captain Sean Quinn said it’s critical to stay alert when running errands or during any other activity in public.

“A lot of things are avoidable,” he said. “If you just take a little extra precaution, it can pay big dividends at the end.”

As crowds grow at shopping centers, criminals tend to follow.

“Big crowds, things like that. They’re looking for people that are distracted. We do see an uptick in thefts from cars,” Quinn said.

People tend to forget to keep valuables like purses and mobile phones out of sight. In some cases, break-ins occurred after a mobile phone was left on a dashboard, he said.

Quinn said it is key to be aware of surroundings. That piece of advice is important for everyone and not just while shopping.

Some other safety tips from the Des Peres Department of Public Safety:

1. Look up, look down, and look all around. Take notice of what you see and where you are. Your instincts will usually tell you when something is not quite right.

2. Always remember where you parked. This goes along with looking around and being alert. Whenever you are looking for your car you don’t actually notice it, but you are telling everyone you are distracted because your focus is on finding your car, not your surroundings. Whenever you park, remind yourself of your location and your landmarks. In a parking garage, remember the level of the garage and the row.

3. Never buy more than you can carry. Being overloaded is not only a distraction, but an impairment.

4. Keep your purse with you and not in a cart. Carry it close to you, not dangling. Put your wallet on an inside pocket when practical.

5. Keep small children in sight at all times and develop a plan ahead of time if you become separated. This is extremely important.

6. Be alert returning to your car. Do not talk or text on your phone.

7. Never leave packages in your car where you can easily see them and lock your car.

8. Report any suspicious packages or activity.

9. Always let someone know where you are going and when to expect you.