Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

~ By Cary Johnson ~
The holiday season allows us the opportunity to return to our childhood memories as we venture to the mall and see the lights, enjoy the decorations, hear our favorite music, and even watch children share their dreams with Santa. It’s a blissful escape from reality and a reengagement with wonderful memories. We pleasantly get our shopping done; we are distracted by the holiday enchantment.

 Someone else is watching this transformation in time, this lovely distraction, take hold of our shopping experience. Predators! Thieves, who know that the joyful moments can cause us to ‘tune out’ our normal vigilance, wait for the moment to become the Grinch who robs our spirit. They’re out to steal and distraction is one of their greatest friends.

Here are some shopping tips to avoid a ‘short’ in your celebration:
  • Plan your shopping trip with a friend; there’s safety in numbers;
  • Exchange cell phone numbers before you go; agree that when one of you is making purchases, the other will stand back and watch packages and purses.
  • Travel light in terms of personal & financial information you carry;
  • Put purses in the trunk before you head out; carry your ID, 1-2 checks, and only one credit/debit card in a pocket wallet; carry it in a front pocket; don’t allow your credit card to leave your sight!
  • Park near the entrance to the mall and under lights, if possible;
  • This is the one time it’s OK to drive around looking for a better spot;
  • When you exit your car, take very careful note of where you are parked.
  • Don’t get cumbered down with lots of packages;
  • Lots of packages are awkward and a further distraction; when you have quite a few, return to your car, put packages in the trunk, and drive to another part of the mall to continue your shopping.
  • Be especially careful in the Food Court;
  • Lots of people means lots of cover for thieves; have one person always stay at your table to watch the packages you have; put shopping bags under the table.
  • Don’t engage in conversations with strangers;
  • Thieves love to work in pairs; they may seem interested and friendly; they may try to have you show them a store or where Santa is located; the conversation is meant to ‘steal your attention’ to allow an accomplice to steal wallets and, maybe, even things out of a shopping bag.
  • Don’t place anything on the floor of a restroom stall;
  • This is easy money; a thief can reach under the stall, grab a purse or shopping bags and you’re helpless!
  • Walk briskly with undistracted focus when returning to your car.
  • Thieves patrol the parking lot looking for older adults who are slowly wandering up a parking aisle, looking around, trying to remember where they parked their car. The thieves pull up in their car, jump out, grab anything they can and they’re gone. Walk with determination to your car, pop the trunk, put your things away, get in your car and lock the door. 
This information was brought to you by the Aging Well Basic Needs Workgroup. Aging Well in Jefferson County is a strategic planning project focused on developing and implementing strategies to create inclusive, livable communities through sustainable partnerships and integrated services. The Basic Needs Workgroup is one of six Workgroups addressing all aspects of life of aging residents in Jefferson County. For more information, contact Aging Well at or call 303-271-4251.

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