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Safe holiday shopping

Practice these simple safety tips and start your holiday season off right.

Check out your surroundings and park in a well-lit area. Always have your keys out and ready. When leaving your vehicle, turn off lights, close all windows and lock your car. Always check inside and around your car before entering. If you see something suspicious report it or have a store employee or security escort you.

Don't advertise items in your vehicle. Conceal your purchases or put them in your trunk. It only takes seconds to break your windows and take your purchases.

Organize your purse or wallet before you shop. Bring only what you will use while shopping and leave extra credit cards and checks at home.

Carry your purse close to your body or wearing it so your strap is across your body can deter a criminal. Never leave your purse in your cart! Never let anyone else watch your bags while you are shopping.

When using your credit card swipe it and put it away immediately. Criminals are using their cell phones to capture a picture of your credit card and using it for online shopping.

There is safety in numbers, but if you are shopping alone keep your cell phone handy so you can dial 911 in an emergency.

If you are shopping with children discuss a safety plan before you enter the store/mall. Assign a meeting location in the event that you are separated. Teach your children how to ask for help from mall or store employees. Remind them of "Stranger Danger," the rules apply no matter how nice the stranger is. Keep your children close, many challenging situations and behaviors can surface while you are scouting out the ultimate deal.