MERIDIAN TWP., Mich (WLNS) – It’s the season for giving but buyer beware.
With more shoppers hitting the stores for the holidays there’s more opportunity for someone to hit your wallet.
With shoppers already out in full force we sat down with Meridian Township Assistant Police Chief Ken Plaga who shared a few important safety reminders of what to watch out for this time of year.
Tip number one: It all starts with parking your car.
“You want to be aware of your surroundings,” says Plaga. “Before you get out of your car take a look around, make sure there’s not anybody lurking or standing around, that everything seems like it should be.”
After you’ve done that Plaga says, before making your way in another good idea is to take note of where you parked.
Tip number two: Know where you are.
“Take a picture of the light pole,” says Plaga. “A landmark, something that’s fixed, so that you can easily find your car when you’re heading back out with your packages.”
But once inside that doesn’t mean you’re safe.
Tip number three: Always have a plan.
“If you lose your kids, let them know where you want them to meet you at,” suggests Tinkrlab owner Melissa Allen. “Let them know in advance if you get lost., I want you to meet me here because then if you can go to that place and they’re not there, then you know if there’s a cause for concern.”
Allen says this will be her third holiday working in a toy store.
And her advice? “People are very anxious, there’s a lot to do. So having them calm down a little bit, take their time, enjoy being in the season.”
Her suggestions come from the other side of the cash register. “From a retailers perspective? So holidays are a prime time for shoplifting. So when you buy a product, make sure the box is intact, make sure all of the pieces are inside the box. People who steal, they’re not going to take the entire box. They’re going to take the stuff out, so when you buy the package. Make sure what you’re buying is actually inside. You’re going to be a lot happier when the kids unwrap it.”
And keeping your eyes peeled for missing pieces-isn’t the only thing to be on the lookout for.
Tip number four: Avoid identity theft
When paying at the store, remember not to flash your cash, and also hide your credit card information when handing it to the clerk, you never know who could be watching.
But Meridian Township Police say once you cash out the dangers don’t stop there.
Tip number five: Be aware of your surroundings.
“If somebody tries to grab you, don’t worry about the property, property can be returned, people can get injured,” cautions Plaga. “So what we would say is just try to get away, don’t sit there and try to fight with somebody over that Christmas sweater that you have to have.”
He says if you see someone who’s up to no good hit your panic button.
The horn will start going off and draw attention.
And when it comes to those gifts Plaga says put them somewhere they’re less likely be seen, where someone would have to make an effort to get to them.
“In the backseat in the foot well, as opposed to on the backseat or if you have a trunk,” Plaga says. “A lot of people may have blankets or things, cover your packages up.”
That way if someone does look into your windows they won’t be able to tell what you bought.
But Plaga says the most important advice of all is “lock your doors as you get prepared to leave and putting your seat belt on because you’re distracted at that moment, as your settling yourself in for your drive home.”
By following these easy reminders you could reduce your chance of becoming a target this holiday season and keep the crooks from grabbing your gifts.