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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Black Friday: Tips for a safe shopping experience

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  • People are already lining up to take advantage of those shopping specials on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that opens the Christmas shopping season.
    As shoppers fill the stores, it is a time of excitement but it's also a time when shoppers need to take extra precautions to make that shopping experience a safe one.
    A lot of people have high anxiety this time of year and they let that anxiety take over their shopping experience. They can show a lack of courtesy, cut in line and even get into fights to get that special electronic device or that special toy that their child just has to have, said Pratt Police Chief Gary Myers.
    A big key in dealing with that anxiety is to avoid being confrontational. If someone is shopping no a high anxiety level, it's better to just let that person do what they are doing and leave them alone than to get in their face or fight them for an item. That could make matters worse so its better to just leave them alone, Myers said.
    "Safety always comes first," Myers said.
    Outside the store, some simple actions can help prevent a pleasant shopping trip from becoming a loss of presents and damage to property.
    When going from one store to another it's best to put packages out of site in the trunk of the vehicle. If the vehicle doesn't have a trunk, place packages in the back and cover them completely so they will not be a temptation to a thief, Myers said.
    Some people take advantage of this time of year and watch parking lots to see if someone goes into a store and leaves the door unlocked.
    Thieves also watch when someone places packages in a vehicle and target that vehicle. As soon as the owner is gone, the thief breaks the window, grabs the items and is gone.
    Thieves also look for other items in vehicles like purses or backpacks that might have valuable items. Electronics like iPads, laptop computers, cell phones, cameras and other items could be a big temptation for thieves.
    If someone has made purchases and is going back to a vehicle most malls will have security officers on duty that will escort the person back to their vehicle and stay with there until the vehicle leaves.
    When shopping, it's a good idea to not take a lot of cash. If a purse or wallet is lost or stolen, the owner might get them back but it is a guarantee any cash will be gone, Myers said.
    At the check out line, don't show big sums of cash and keep a good grip on purses and wallets. Instead of cash, get a cash card for a set amount and use that to make purchases. It prevents a thief from getting any financial information.
    Page 2 of 2 - Also make sure to not carry the PIN number with a credit card. It's also a good idea to use a credit card as opposed to a debit card. If a thief gets hold of a credit card those charges can be stopped. But if they get all the information on a debit card it gives them access to that entire account, Myers said.
    Also, avoid giving a debit card to a waiter or waitress and let them take the card to pay the bill.
    "Never let a debit card out of your sight," Myers said.
    When shopping in large crowds, it's a good idea to leave the children at home. If that isn't possible, parents have to be very focused on children while they are shopping.
    Don't let an item draw focus away from a child.
    It is easy for children to get distracted in a busy store. They are looking a waist level and could end up following some adult that looks like their parents, Myers said.
    Myers said he experienced just such an event when he was a child. He was in Wichita with his older brother and they were going to a movie. Blue jeans and thin belts were the in-thing. He accidentally followed the wrong guy into a theater thinking it was his brother.
    Children have to be watched closely, don't let them wander off and never leave them in an unattended vehicle.
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