Safety tips for last-minute shoppers

Author: Elizabeth Campbell, General assignment reporter, ecampbell@wjxt.com
Chris Robbins, Evening newscast producer, crobbins@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 22 2013 09:48:45 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 23 2013 08:23:34 PM EST
shopping safe
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Christmas is on Wednesday, but many people will be doing their last-minute shopping until the night of Christmas Eve.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are reminding shoppers to stay safe, especially after a recent holiday tragedy in New Jersey. A 30-year-old attorney was carjacked and killed last Sunday in a parking garage after leaving the mall with his wife.

In Jacksonville, a mother and her husband were stabbed by her child's father outside of Sears at the Orange Park Mall Sunday afternoon.

The Sheriff's Office says they were able to respond quickly, catching the father after he took off, and getting the couple to the hospital where the woman is in good condition and her husband is in serious but stable condition.

This serves are a reminder to remain vigilant during the holidays.  

"As long as everyone pays attention to what's around them," said Lt. Chris Coldiron of Clay County Sheriff's Office. "We always need good witnesses in situations like that. We cant control everyone's actions and even police presence sometimes doesn't prevent a domestic situation from occurring."

Aside from paying attention to your surroundings when walking to and from your car, Channel 4's safety expert Ken Jefferson has some other advice for staying safe this holiday season.

Jefferson says when walking to your car always have your keys ready so you can quickly get into your car, and so you can use them as a weapon if needed.

If someone is trying to attack you, yell the word fire when running away.

Jefferson says yelling the word fire draws more attention that yelling the word help.

If someone approaches you while you're in your car, either roll the window down only an inch or just drive away. And of course, always lock your car and try to leave valuables at home. 

"Even if you try and conceal it, if you put it under the seat, what a thief does is when he scans the vehicle, he looks in the back seat, front seat, he doesn't see anything, then he will go this way to see if he sees anything," Jefferson said.

The Sheriff's Office says most shopping centers have extra officers patrolling during the holidays. If you ever feel unsafe when walking to or from your car, wait until you see an officer. Deputies say they will never deny driving someone to their car if they feel uneasy about walking alone.