CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Thousands of people will be getting their holiday shopping done this weekend. Police warn that criminals will also be out and looking for excited, distracted shoppers to steal from.
Sgt. Trevor Shelor, with the Charleston Police Department, said there are some things you can do to lower your chances of being preyed on.
If you're doing late night or early morning shopping, try not to go alone. Shelor said criminals target people who are alone in parking lots.
If you are alone, don't cut through the cars in the parking lot. Stay on the side of the lane, in clear sight.
When you get to the counter to make your purchase, Shelor said avoid putting your purse on the counter
"A distraction happens and you don't realize your checkbook was stolen for another two hours," said Shelor.
Even how you buy is important. Shelor said hackers target retailers during the holiday time. The best way to protect your bank account is to pay with a credit card.
"When they attack your debit account, that's emptying out your bank account like that, as opposed to a credit card where you can dispute it, refuse to pay it," said Shelor.
If you're doing a lot of shopping, don't carry around too many bags, it's easy to lose track of them.
Plus, if your hands are too full because that can make you an easy target.
"Periodically, make a trip to the car and lock those things away and then move your car in the parking lot," said Shelor.
Shelor said if you move your car, anyone who watched you walk to it may just think you left. Then your car, and the bags you're leaving in it, are off the criminal's radar.
A car trunk is the best place to store the bags but if you don't have one, keep them in the back of the car and out of sight.
Shelor suggested even using a blanket to cover the bags.