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Shopping for gifts during the Winter Holidays is generally a stressful affair. Besides spending a lot of money, shoppers also have to contend with massive crowds while juggling a large number of boxes and bags. But, worst of all, there’s always the threat of being attacked and mugged by criminals just waiting for the right opportunity.

Shoppers are at their most vulnerable when they’re walking by themselves in large parking lots or parking garages. To minimize the chance of being attacked, shoppers should try to find a partner to go shopping with. If that’s not an option, then consider waiting at the entrance until a large group leaves and walk out with them. Always try and stay in the better-lit areas of the parking lot. Alternatively, most malls have security officers that can escort shoppers to their cars.

When making pit stops at the car to drop off presents, be sure to stow purchases in the truck of cars. Leaving any presents in plain view in either the front or back seats is like an invitation for thieves to break in. When shopping for gifts, be sure to buy the most expensive presents last. And when approaching the car, have the keys in hand and check to make sure no one suspicious is in the vicinity.

Shoppers aren’t the only ones in danger during the holiday season. Every year, more than 100,000 children are abducted – often in malls or department stores, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The easiest way to prevent this is to leave the children at home during shopping expeditions.  But if that’s not an option, parents should keep their children by their sides at all times. Children should never just be left at video arcades or toy stores unattended. And parents should also accompany children to the bathroom.

Pickpockets are also a major concern, especially in large crowds. With people continuously bumping and jostling one another, it’s relatively easy for a skilled pickpocket to steal wallets and cellphones out of pockets or purses. Men should carry their wallets in their front pockets rather than their back or jacket pocket. Women should keep one hand on their purse at all times and keep the purse opening towards themselves.  Finally, avoid using revolving doors, especially the automatic ones. A thief with good timing can grab a purse or package and be gone by the time it takes for their victim to get out of the revolving doors.

Follow these tips and use common sense while shopping, and the only thing that will be a concern will be the amount of money spent on all the Christmas gifts.

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