Holiday safe shopping tips from AlertID and McGruff the Crime Dog

Nearly 40 percent of Americans are expected to go shopping on Black Friday. With all of the excitement, it is easy for family members to become separated and for people to become vulnerable to crime.

“A distracted shopper is the prime target for opportunistic holiday criminals,” said Ann M. Harkins, National Crime Prevention Council president and CEO.  “You can keep the Grinch and other cunning crooks away by following 10 simple shopping safety suggestions.”  

AlertID and the NCPC — home to McGruff the Crime Dog — share these tips to help keep shoppers and their families safe throughout the busy holiday season.

• Be informed about your surroundings. Use the free McGruff mobile app available from AlertID to receive alerts about registered sex offenders living and working in the vicinity of your shopping venue as well as crime alerts for thousands of cities.

• Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.

• Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.

• Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.

• Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.

When shopping with children:

• Make a plan in case you are separated from each other.

• Select a central meeting place.

• Teach them to know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.

• Have them memorize or keep your cell phone number handy.

• Keep up-to-date photos and accurate descriptions of each child on a cell phone or tablet. The AlertID app includes a My Family Wallet feature. Should family members go missing, this information can be sent quickly to law enforcement when every moment counts.

“Malls are extremely busy places on Black Friday and throughout the holidays,” said Keli Wilson, mom of three and founder of AlertID. “By keeping these safety tips in mind, families can help ensure not only a fun shopping experience, but also a safe one.”

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