This report comes to the Eye on Palmetto Bay from the folks at Citizen’s Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County. Palmetto Bay residents need to remain ever-vigilant – whether shopping in our village or at any of the nearby mega-malls.
The holiday shopping season is here, and we all try to get the best deals. Criminals are in the same state of mind, looking for potential easy victims — so let’s look at some ways we can deter them from ruining our holiday spirit while shopping and assist the police at the same time.
- Women — Is it really necessary to carry a purse at all times? It may be wiser to just put the essentials, such as keys, credit cards and ID cards, in our pockets. If you must take a purse, use one that crosses your body, keeping it always in front of you and thus making it harder for someone to grab. Carry as little cash and as few credit cards as possible.
- Men — Put your wallet in your FRONT pockets to avoid pickpockets. It’s easier to steal a wallet from your back pocket than the front pocket, especially if you are dealing with a distraction team.
- Everyone — Be aware of camera phones. There have been instances in which these phones have been used to steal someone’s merchandise. Here’s how it works. You’re standing in line making your purchases while the person behind you is pretending to be on the phone. That person is actually taking a picture of you. By the time you have finished paying, that picture has been sent to a contact outside. They’ll follow you to your car and either wait for you to put all the merchandise in your trunk and continue shopping, or they follow you home and wait for you to pop the trunk open.
- There are ways to protect your self from this scheme. For example, when you’re shopping — and this usually happens when you’re buying big items such as electronics — don’t go to your car and leave the packages in your trunk and then continue shopping.
- When you go home, remove all your purchases from the trunk before doing anything else, including rushing inside to use the restroom. Pay attention to your surroundings and look for tell-tale signs such as a car or a pedestrian near your home.
- When using an ATM to make withdrawals, make sure it is in a well-lit and not-secluded area. Once you get your money, wait until you get into your car to count the cash – with the windows up and doors locked. An added recommendation is to turn on your car alarm.
- Many malls and shopping areas are working with law enforcement to keep crime down. You may see an increase in the number of uniformed officers in and around malls, but many places also will have undercover officers.
- It may put us at ease to know that we have police officers protecting us while we shop, but those officers cannot be everywhere at all times. We need to remember to take extra measures to protect ourselves from becoming crime victims.
In closing, let us not forget after the holidays to take all those boxes, smash them up, and place them in large black garbage bags so that no one knows what you got for the holidays.