Friday, 15 December 2017 21:24

Avoid holiday thieves with these safe shopping tips

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From Houston Police Department

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, in partnership with retailers throughout the Houston area, has released surveillance video of a wanted suspect dubbed “The Grinch”. 

The suspect is described only as a green-faced individual wearing a Santa hat, Santa shirt and green tights.  He has been described as having furry hands and feet. Surveillance video of the Grinch:

The Grinch has been spotted at retailers throughout the Houston area committing burglaries of motor vehicles, thefts at gas stations and other holiday-spirit stealing acts of crime. 

HPD warns prevention and avoidance is the key to not falling victim to the Grinch.  Citizens are urged to heed to following safe shopping tips:

While shopping: 

  • Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Shop with a friend; there is safety in numbers. • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Pay for purchases with a check, credit, or debit card.
  • If possible, carry only your drivers license, personal checks, or necessary credit or debit cards.
  • If you must carry a purse, do not wrap the straps around your arms or shoulders. You could risk injury from a would-be purse snatcher. Carry a clutch purse tightly under your arm or wear a fanny pack.
  • Do not carry wallets in a back pocket. It should be placed in a front pocket for safety.
  • Be alert, criminals look for the “high dollar store” shopping bags with your purchases. When possible, slip bags/purchases in a plain nondescript bag.
  • Watch purchases while eating in mall food courts; bags as well as purses can easily be switched or taken.
  •  Educate your children about what to do if they are lost as well as what to do if a “stranger” should try and take them. 
  • Don’t overburden yourself with too many packages. This jeopardizes your safety while walking to your vehicle. Either make multiple trips to your vehicle or have your packages sent to package pick-up where you may retrieve them in a well-lit and heavily populated area.
  • Have your car keys ready in hand before leaving the store. They also make a great weapon, should you need to defend yourself.
  • If you do return to your vehicle to unload packages and continue shopping, place your purchases in the trunk. Be observant of anyone watching, and if possible, move the vehicle to another parking space to deter a burglary of your vehicle.

In parking lots: 

  • Shop early and leave early to avoid evening darkness.
  • Park in a high visibility area and check for lighting in case you leave during the hours of darkness.
  • DO NOT park next to a vehicle with dark tinted windows. Waiting assailants can be obscured from view upon your return.
  • Before shopping, lock all your valuables in the trunk prior to parking in the parking lot.
  • Leave the store with a group of people, not alone.
  • Ask the Security Officer to escort you to your vehicle if you are uncomfortable. 
  • Walk briskly, confidently, and directly through the parking lot. Be cautious of people handing out fliers or asking questions in the parking area. 
  • Watch for people who may be following you. This can occur inside as well as outside the store. If you suspect that you are being followed, report it to the store or mall Security. Report it immediately. 

At home: 

  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit with doors locked and window curtains closed.
  • Don’t display gifts beneath the Christmas tree that can be seen from windows or doors.
  • After the holidays, don’t advertise gifts received by the boxes left for trash collection. Destroy boxes and place in a sealed, non-clear bag. 

If you are traveling: 

  • Get an automatic timer for your lights. • Ask a neighbor to watch your home, collect mail, park in the driveway, etc.
  • Try to remember to have the mail and newspaper deliveries stopped. If it piles up, it’s a sure sign your gone. Because emergencies may occur, this is not always possible. Rely on friends and neighbors to help. 
Read 298 times Last modified on Friday, 15 December 2017 21:34