Monday, 7 December 2009 - 10:54am |

On the 3rd day of Christmas . . . enjoy safe and secure seasonal shopping

3 min read

Are you dreading the Christmas crowds? Seasonal shopping can test your sanity leaving you feeling rushed, tired and stressed. It can also make you a vulnerable target for thieves so make plans and take a few simple precautions.

In the shops
• Start shopping as early; don't leave it to the last few days when everyone is in a last minute panic.
• If possible avoid shopping at weekends when the crowds will be at their height.
• Go shopping with a friend. Not only will it help to alleviate the stress you can watch out for one another.
• Only carry with you identification or valuables that are essential for the trip and make sure they are secure.
• If carrying a bag make sure it is closed and is possible held in front of you. Never take leave it unattended; a common example of this is shopping trolleys.
• If someone bumps into you immediately check your valuables. It could just be another busy shopper but don't just assume.
• Try to condense your bags into one big bag. It reduces the likelihood of you losing an item and makes you look less like a walking cash machine.
• When making a transaction with a bank or credit card never let the card out of your sight and be conscious about who can see you entering your PIN number.
• Pay attention to who is around you.

In the car park
• Always park in a safe location such as a secure car park.
• Make sure all the doors and windows on your vehicle are secure.
• Never leave valuables on view in your vehicle. A recent operation in Palmerston North by local Community Patrols revealed Playstations, car keys, wallets, open purses and shopping bags all left in plain view of thieves. In one car there was an MP3 player, a digital camera and an uncrossed $2,000 check on the front passenger seat.
• Even small change for a parking meter may be enough to attract an opportunist thief. You could end up with a repair bill of hundreds of dollars all for the sake of a few coins.
• If you return to your car to put purchases inside before continuing shopping make sure they are out of sight and you are aware of who is around when you put the shopping in your car.
• As we use more gadgets in our cars the risk of theft increases. Don't leave GPS systems or mobile phone hands-free accessories on display. If you're GPS attaches to your windscreen hide it out of sight and wipe away and tell-tale marks on the glass.

Shopping on-line

Buying gifts online is can be less stressful and a time-saver but it comes with its own risks.

• Invest in a security and virus software package for your computer and password protect documents containing personal information.
• If purchasing goods over the internet always make sure that you are making payments or providing personal details in a secure area. You will usually be alerted when entering a secure area or you will require a password. A small gold padlock symbol along the bottom of your screen or next to the address bar also tells you that you are in a secure area.
• Check out the company you are trading with. Make sure they have a physical address and contact details and you keep a record of transactions with time, dates and order numbers.
• Don't use computers that are accessible to the public to make your transactions.
• Read the website's refund and returns policies, privacy policy and legal notices in case you need to return goods or have a problem.

This advice forms part of the 12 Crime of Christmas campaign by Central District Police who wish you a very merry and safe Christmas and New Year.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 06 351 2546 or 027 234 8256.