If you're not careful, your shopping cart could become the scene of a crime.
Dothan police say there's been an increase in thefts at major food and department stores over the past couple of months. Purses left in shopping carts are the targets. Similar crimes have also been reported in Troy, Enterprise and Ozark.
Police said it only takes a few seconds for you to become a victim. If you step away and leave your cart briefly unattended or get distracted talking to a friend, your wallet could be gone.
Police also advise you to be aware of your surroundings. A thief may follow you around for a while waiting for that moment of opportunity. So make sure you don't give them one.
Dothan police said they have some good leads and they're working with law enforcement agencies in surrounding communities to solve the crimes.
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Holiday Shopping Tips
The Parking Lot
- Become familiar with the layout. Exits, garage ramps, store locations.
- Note where you have parked. Section, aisle or pole number.
- Walk "purposefully" and be aware of your surroundings!
- Take note of: Persons wandering aimlessly, and suspicious vehicles.
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages, children, etc.
- Keep all valuables stored in your vehicle out of sight.
- Secure cell phones, purses, and presents in the trunk or covered area.
- Whenever possible, remove unnecessary valuable before you go shopping.
- Always lock the doors and roll the windows all the way up.
- Never store a valet key in the car.
- Keep registration and insurance cards with you, not in the car.
- If you have a security device, use it.
- Be aware of your purse at all times.
- Carry your purse with the flap facing you, and hold it close you your body.
- Don’t place the strap across your body.
- Carry your wallet next to your skin, not in your coat pocket.
- Be alert for pickpockets and thieves.
- If someone bumps you, check your wallet or purse immediately.
- Many pickpockets work in teams, one will distract you while the other takes your money.
- Be wary of people setting their shopping bags down next to yours.
- When dining, remember to keep your purse on the floor between your feet.
- Never hang your purse on the back of your chair.
- Never carry large sums of money, if you must, don’t flash it around.
Credit Card Safety
- Always sign the back of your credit cards, or “Check I.D.”
- Remember to retrieve your cards after a transaction.
- Know where the receipts/carbon copies for the purchase are after the transaction.
- If cards are lost or stolen report them immediately to your bank or card company.
- Do not put credit card numbers on checks.
- Scrutinize monthly statements for purchases you did not make.
- Know your money.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Source: www.nsc.org (National Safety Council Web site) contributed to this report.