Holiday Season Safety

Holiday Tips for Shoppers

The holiday shopping season is here again. This list of safety tips is as important as your gift list. Check this list twice before you head for the stores this year!

  • Be alert and aware. Be attentive to your surroundings at all times.
  • Take extra precautions with your wallet or purse. Carry your purse with the opening flap next to your body and with the strap hung over your shoulder.
  • Be extra careful when carrying a wallet or purse; only carry what you absolutely need in them. They are prime targets for criminals in crowded shopping areas, transportation terminals, and bus stops.
  • Instruct children on holiday safety measures. Know where your children are at all times. Before going shopping, decide where to meet if you and your children should get separated.
  • Always lock your car doors and remember where you park.
  • Be sure to put valuables out of sight (i.e. packages, purses, mobile phones, CDs, etc.). Place them in the trunk or take them with you.
  • Minimize shopping at night or alone; you are more susceptible to being victimized at night or while alone.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Take only the cash you need or pay with a credit card or ATM card; carry only as many cards as you will need.
  • If you must use an ATM, use one inside of a well-populated building or a well lighted area. Only withdraw the amount of cash that you will need for that day.
  • Protect your PIN from the view of other people near the ATM.
  • Keep a record of all your credit card numbers at home in a safe location. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.
  • Avoid overloading yourself with packages whether on your person or in your vehicle.
  • Never hide spare keys in or on your car. These hiding places are easily discovered. If you need spare keys, keep them in your wallet or purse.
  • Be alert to suspicious persons or circumstances. Avoid parking where you see someone sitting in their vehicle for no apparent reason.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a situation, report it to security immediately.
  • When walking in any parking lot, grocery store, airport, shopping center, etc., walk confidently with your head up, make eye contact, and have your keys ready.
  • Do not drive across parking stalls. Use appropriate marked driving lanes and obey all traffic signs.
  • Drive defensively and courteously.
  • Report all suspicious activity.
  • And remember, parking lots will be more crowded and checkout lanes will be busier, so be patient and have a safe shopping experience.


Tips for Safer Holiday Shopping Online/Over the Phone

Knowing how to shop safely online is essential, especially during the holidays. Check out these quick tips to make your online spending safer.

·         Never give personal information (ss#, date of birth, credit card number or bank PIN code) unless you initiated the call.

·         Know your seller - Check the seller's feedback. Be cautious of sellers with little or no feedback.

·         Don't Sacrifice Caution for an Impulse Buy - Take time to research the item and get to know your seller.

·         Be Wary of Items with Delayed Shipment - Pay attention to the advised delivery date. Delivery dates further than 20 days after your payment involve more risk.

·         If it Sounds Too Good to Be True… It probably is.


Children and Shopping

  • If possible leave small children at home when going shopping.
  • If they must go shopping with you, try to keep your children close to you at all times.
  • Teach them about “Stranger Danger” and who they can go to for help if they get separated from you. Children should know their full name, address, telephone number, and parent’s/guardians full name to give to police, a store clerk, or security if they get separated from you.


At Home

  • Be aware that sometimes criminals will pose as couriers delivering gifts to case your home or to commit a crime immediately.
  • Be aware of scams that criminals commit to take advantage of people's generosity during the holidays.
  • Be cautious about locking your windows and doors even when you leave the house for a short period of time.
  • When you leave your home for extended holiday travel, have a neighbor or friend watch your home while you’re away. Have them collect your mail and newspapers while you're gone.
  • Place lights, radio, and television on timers so that your home appears occupied.
  • Avoid having large displays of gifts visible from windows and doors.


Attending a Party

  • If you are going to consume alcoholic beverages, plan to have a designated driver or use public transportation. Never drink and drive.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Always attend and leave a party with a trusted friend.


  • Dress casually and comfortably.
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Carry your wallet in your front pants pocket or your purse securely around your shoulder.


  • Be cautious while driving alone at night.
  • Keep all doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your vehicle.
  • Never park next to large vehicles or vehicles with heavy tinted windows.
  • Park in well lighted areas.
  • Never leave your vehicle unattended with children inside or while it is running.
  • Do not leave gifts or other valuables in plain sight in your vehicle; it is an unnecessary temptation for thieves.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when approaching or leaving your vehicle.
  • Try to stay in a group when approaching your vehicle.
  • If security is available, ask for an escort to your vehicle if leaving at night and alone.
Centennial Lakes Police Department - 54 North Road - Circle Pines, MN 55014
Office: 763.784.2501 - Fax: 763.784.0082 - Dispatch/911: 763.427.1212