Holiday shopping will be at its peak later this week as residents of Lincoln County join with others across the country in targeting stores with the best deals and discounts on Black Friday.
Local law enforcement officers anticipate along with busy shoppers, criminals will be lurking in shopping malls and parking lots looking to onslaught careless and oblivious individuals.
“While shopping, people have the tendency to let their guard down,” Sheriff David Carpenter said in a department press release.
By reminding individuals to stay vigilant while shopping and running other holiday errands, he hopes to prevent people from becoming victims of theft, assault and other crimes.
“This time of year attracts more shopping-related criminal activity because of the larger crowds and the extended store hours,” Carpenter stated in the release.
“These factors and the usual distraction of shopping, creates a more favorable environment for petty thieves and other offenders.”
Carpenter encouraged people to shop in groups during daylight hours, park in well-lit areas, and tell others one’s shopping location and arrival time in case of an emergency.
In the release, the Sheriff’s Office said to keep cash and car keys stored in a front pocket, not wallet or purse, in order to prevent a potential thief from stealing the necessary items.
Beware of strangers approaching one’s vehicle, never walk alone in a parking lot, and if necessary, ask a security guard for assistance, the release said.
Instances of credit and gift card fraud also occur more frequently this time of year.
As a result, law enforcement officials have cautioned shoppers to not write individual pin numbers on credit cards, keep cards and receipts stowed away and out of sight, carry only necessary cards, never email credit card information and always shred any document listing a card number.
In terms of gift cards, most online sites that offer them are fraudulent, the release said. In addition, people should only purchase a gift card at a store’s cash register and ask the cashier to scan it in front of them.
“Paying attention and taking precautions can help eliminate chances of being victimized,” Carpenter said.