Be careful shopping during the holidays! - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Be careful shopping during the holidays!

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November 19, 2007

Albany--Albany police are warning shoppers to be cautious and alert this holiday season.  To keep you safe, they're also stepping up patrol, that's because it's around this time of the year that crime tends to go up.

With holiday shopping in full swing, so is the opportunity for crime.

"More people have more money. More people are out and about. There's more opportunity for the bad guy to reach his goal," says Sgt. Michael Cunningham with Albany Police.

To keep that from happening, Cunningham says Albany police will be beefing up patrol during the holiday rush.

"In addition to the normal patrol that we have, the units that we have on the streets, we have additional units patrolling the retail areas, the business districts, the stores," he says.

And if you're one of the many shoppers hitting the stores in search of the perfect gifts, there are several things you need to know so you don't become the target of a crime.  First and foremost:  "Be observant of your surroundings," he says.

Cunningham says the best time to shop is during daylight hours, but if you can't:  "If you have to shop in the evening time, park in a well-lit area. It's preferred that you shop with someone," he says.

And avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  "If you know that you're going to two stores, carry two checks if you're planning to use checks. Carry one or two credit cards," he says.

Also stay clear of cramped areas such as jammed aisles or elevators. Pickpocket's love to target those places. "Any place where you're going to be left alone, where you're more of a target of thieves," he says.

While it's easy to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle that goes along with the holidays, Cunningham says it's important to not get careless.

After all, "Safety is your first priority," he says.

Feedback: news@walb.com?Subject=HolidayShoppingSafety