Shoppers urged to be extra cautious

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Holiday shoppers are prime targets for thieves, so law enforcement agencies will be beefing up patrols around malls and shopping centers this week with extra patrols and even undercover officers moving in the crowds.

This is all to help keep shoppers safe, but there are also some things you should do while out in stores.

The rushing crowds during Black Friday aren't the only thing shoppers should be wary of in the stores.

"It becomes the potential for having victims of purse snatching or even something more severe such as a robbery," said Tommy Rice with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

According to authorities, shoppers are most often attacked when they are moving from their car to the store or vice versa. Shoppers are encouraged to put the cell phone up, refrain from rummaging through your purse and definitely pay attention to your surroundings.

"If you're approached in a parking lot and you're in between your destination, you want to try and persuade that conversation to be moved to an area where you can easily be seen, where you can summon help," Rice added.

Of course, dangers also lie inside the stores, right in the check-out lines. Credit card information can be easily stolen with just the click of a phone camera.

"People need to be cognitive of who's around them and how close they are," said Brian Blache with EBRSO. "People generally in lines like that are pretty close to you. When you take items like that out, keep them close to you, in front of you."

And when the shopping is all done, don't leave packages in your car where they can be easily spotted. Officers say it only takes a few seconds to smash and grab. They say if criminals see it, they'll want it.

They ultimately want shoppers to remember it is okay to be overly cautious.

Some other tips: When you are traveling, make sure a neighbor or friends collect your mail and packages. That way it's not obvious that you aren't at home. Also, don't leave the blinds open in the house. While Christmas decorations are pretty, the presents under the tree may be too tempting for a would-be thief.

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