Police warn holiday shoppers to be wary of thieves
CAPITAL REGION Local police departments are warning shoppers taking advantage of the Thanksgiving and after-Thanksgiving sales this week to be cautious when they have their eyes on that deal.
Someone else might have their eyes on something totally different: the shopper’s wallet or purse.
Across the region and country, shoppers will begin working off those Thanksgiving calories with walks or sprints around malls and stores. But as they do, police officials suggested they follow a list of tips to keep themselves and their purchases safe.
“The most important thing is just to pay attention,” Guilderland Police Capt. Curtis Cox said Wednesday. “Don’t get distracted by the hustle and bustle of the day. Just pay attention to what you’re doing. Know your surroundings.”
Cox, whose jurisdiction includes the busy Crossgates Mall, said his department will have extra officers on duty to help keep shoppers safe.
The Albany Police Department and the state Attorney General’s Office both put out tips, including for shoppers to make sure to keep tabs on their smartphones.
Albany police also noted that these tips can be followed during any shopping trip, not just the post-Thanksgiving rush.
In the parking lot, police said, cars should be locked and any packages or purchases placed in the trunk or otherwise out of plain view.
When returning to the car, shoppers should have their keys out and ready to open the car, then lock the doors once they are inside.
In large crowds, women should keep their purse close to their body and men should keep their wallet in their front pocket or in a coat pocket.
Shoppers with children should select a central place to meet should they become separated. Parents should also make sure their children know to ask a store security worker for help if they get lost.
Albany police also suggested shopping in groups and never buying more than can be carried safely.
Cox also suggested making multiple trips to the car if purchasing multiple items at multiple stores, to keep the load manageable.
“It’s easy to leave one behind or, if you have your hands full, someone can walk up and swipe one and you won’t even notice,” he said.
Rotterdam police are also going to have extra officers on duty. One store, the local Walmart, is even paying to have off-duty officers work overtime to watch the store, police spokesman Lt. Michael Brown.
He suggested that shoppers returning to their vehicles late at night ask a mall employee or store employee to escort them to their vehicle if they see anything suspicious.
Brown also had tips similar to what the other departments offered.
“It’s that time of year that malls are crowded,” Brown said. “The criminals know that and are also out there watching shoppers. If someone lets their guard down, then they will prey on those individuals.”
For smartphone security, people should ensure that security apps are enabled: Apple users should see that “Find My iPhone” is on, while Android users should activate Android Device Manager. Both allow for remote tracking. People should also write down their phone’s identifying numbers.
Smartphone owners should also avoid making themselves easy targets by texting while walking.
They should keep their devices put away and never lend their phone to a stranger.
Albany police also suggest, in general, reporting any suspicious person or activities to police.