Tips to stay safe while shopping this holiday season

This week, many will start their holiday shopping.

The season can be a time for steals and deals.

But not just for shoppers. Thieves are looking to make a quick buck.

So how can you protect yourself?

Lee Donohue, former Honolulu police chief and current director of security for Securitas, says you could become a target if you’re distracted.

Distraction can come in all forms, like trying to watch your kids or looking for car keys in your purse.

Donohue suggests leaving big purses at home and carry something smaller like a fanny pack while shopping.

“You are very susceptible, because they can go by and pull it off,” Donohue said. “If you can carry your money and things you need for shopping in a fanny pack around the waist, that’s the best.”

Where you put your shopping bags is also important. Don’t keep them in the passenger seat. The trunk is the safest place in the vehicle.

“These guys are good. They can get a car in six seconds, in your car and out and be gone, but where to find the trunk lock? That’s going to take them a couple of more seconds,” Donohue said. “They don’t like that when they have to start looking around.”

Donohue suggests parking in well-lit areas, and if possible avoid parking next to vans with sliding doors.

“It hardly happens, but it happens. It’s been recorded where people are getting in and out of their cars, are accosted when the doors open. They pull the people into the cars, into the vans,” said Donohue.

For added security, some shopping centers provide escort services. All you have to do is call a security guard to help you to your car.

We called several malls and found that places like Waikele Premium Outlets, Pearlridge Center, and Ka Makana Alii offer this service to customers.

At Ka Makana Alii, shoppers can also text security if they see something suspicious. That number can be found on signage all over the mall.

Anyone who is not aware can fall victim to a crime. Donohue says these criminals usually work in groups. You may not see them but they are always watching you.

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