Consumer safety tips over holiday season

Analyst offers advice for shoppers, residents to prevent crime

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The mad dash of the holiday shopping season will kick off on Black Friday, which is only about a week and a half out.

Consumer safety during that time will be important, so here's a look at the dos and don'ts of holiday shopping.

Homes could be harboring secret hiding spots for thieves to go.

"Just walk like you're going to the car normally without looking and tell me if you see me," Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson told Channel 4's Melanie Lawson during a demonstration as he hid behind hedges outside her house. "Wow, look, I'm right here. I can come out and grab you take you back inside."

It's not just outside of homes where someone could be lurking. Consider parking lots.

Some may be thinking about everything but their purse or valuables hanging over their shoulder as they walk to stores.

"If you're usually this way, it's OK because it's on your shoulder, but it's open, and I can bump you and I can get your purse, I mean, your wallet pretty quickly," Jefferson told Channel 4's Staci Spanos during a demonstration.

One simple thing to do for shoppers is to lock up their purse with the strap in the child seat of a grocery cart, for instance. That way if a purse snatcher tries to grab it and run, he or she will take the whole cart with them.

Jefferson reminds everyone that when they're shopping, stay off their cellphone and don't be distracted.

Those shopping with children should make sure they know what to do should they become separated.

"Always make sure your kids understand that they need to go to an adult, possibly an adult that works in the store that they are in," Jefferson said.

Those traveling over the holidays may want to leave a TV or radio on in their home so if someone is casing their house, they'll hear voices and hopefully stay away.

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