We’re in the heart of the Christmas season. Long lines in stores and congested traffic on the roads are things all of us will have to deal with over the next 10 days or so.

At the Sheriff’s Department, we’re also thinking about people who’d rather rob someone and take off with money that doesn’t belong to them. That’s just a reality of what we in law enforcement deal with every holiday season.

Big crowds and extended store hours create distractions that can make you a prime target for crooks who want to steal your money, your merchandise or even your identity. It’s important to stay alert to protect yourself, your valuables and your personal information.

It’s easy to get distracted during this time of year with all of the comings and goings of the holidays. But when you follow simple tips like these, you’ll greatly reduce your risk of becoming a crime victim.

  • A single shopper is the best target for theft. Always shop with a friend or relative.
  • Tell someone where you’re shopping and what time to expect you to return. They should also know what you’re wearing and driving.
  • Keep cash in your front pocket rather than in a purse or wallet. This makes it much more difficult for a pick-pocket to remove. Carry car keys in a pants or jacket pocket. If your purse is stolen, you’ll still be able to drive home.
  • If you feel uneasy returning to your vehicle alone, find a security guard and ask them to walk you to your car.