JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of the biggest holidays of the year is approaching, and shoppers are looking for gifts online and in-person.
News4JAX crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson says people need to remember basic safety rules while out and about during the holiday season. He says the best practices are to be aware and pay attention.
“You must be aware of your surroundings because there are people watching you,” Jefferson said. “They are watching for several things. They are watching to see if you are distracted. They are watching to see how vulnerable you are. They will wait to see if you are paying with cash. They will try to compromise your debit card and watch over your shoulder while you put the debit card number in.”
To prevent that, Jefferson suggests using credit cards to avoid using your PIN number. He also advises that you shop during the day, shop with a group, hide packages in your car, and lock your doors, even while waiting.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office crime-mapping tool, in the last week, there have been minor crimes reported near or at all three major retail malls in the city: St. Johns Town Center, River City Marketplace and the Avenues Mall. The most common crime reported is theft.
And if you can’t find what you need in a store, or prefer the convenience of staying home, you might be shopping online.
“I will be doing it locally, here in San Marco, and virtually, of course, like the rest of the world relying on Amazon,” a shopper named Tom told News4JAX.
Regardless of how you’re shopping this holiday season, Jefferson says consumers need to be cautious in stores and online.
“They know that people are going to be out. They are going to be shopping more than normal. People do shop online, so they avoid that risk. There are also risks that you take when shopping online,” he said.
According to a Bank of America report, 49% of people started their holiday shopping earlier this year because of potential supply chain and inventory issues.