Sheriff Kevin Sproul Offers Holiday Safety Tips

Sheriff Kevin Sproul

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

I hope 2016 has brought an abundance of blessings for you and your family. With the Christmas or holiday season upon us, many will be busy shopping for the perfect gift. Whether shopping online or making our way from one location to another, it is imperative to be aware of individuals who may try to take advantage of you. Some foresight and planning can reduce the chances of becoming a victim during a season that should be a joyous and loving celebration.

When shopping online, always look for “https:” at the beginning of a web address before checking out. The “s” at the end indicates that the website is secure. It isn’t a good idea to shop by replying to email advertisements. Rather, you should go to the store website and shop from there. This will help to avoid being scammed by phony emails. Also remember that using credit cards usually gives better fraud protection than debit cards.

When shopping in person, look for the best lit parking spaces.  Once in your chosen space, look around before leaving your car.  Is there anyone in the vicinity watching you?  Do you see anyone loitering?  If so, remain in your car and watch them for a moment.  If they move on, that’s fine, but if not, you might consider moving to a new parking space.  If you feel uncertain or unsafe about a situation you observe, take steps to move yourself to a safer location.  Don’t assume you are being foolish or paranoid.

Once you are in a safer location, lock your vehicle and move quickly and confidently to the store.  Would-be thieves and robbers are looking for the easiest targets.  If you show that you are aware of what is happening around you and move with a sense of purpose, you are less likely to become a victim.  Walk against the flow of traffic. 

Keep your head up and scanning—look forward, to the right and left, and even check behind as you walk.  Awareness is your greatest defense.  Don’t search through a purse or bags in the parking lot.  If you must look for something, make sure you are in the safety of the store before you become absorbed in your hunt for a shopping list, car keys, or other items.

If you store items in your vehicle, make sure they are covered or concealed.  If you are putting bags in your vehicle and returning to shop, move your car from time to time in case someone is watching you.

Finally, if leaving late from a shopping mall or store, don’t hesitate to ask a store employee for help.  Don’t accept the kind offer of the “stranger” who meets you outside the door and offers assistance.  It may be a kind and generous offer, but it could also be ploy to gain access to your belongings. 

Please call the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 431-3259 if you need assistance or should have questions or concerns. Remember to be aware, stay safe, and have a joyous and wonderful Christmas or holiday season!