The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the year. As millions of angst Americans go out looking for the best deals on Christmas gifts for friends and family, many others will hit the stores with a different goal in mind: theft.
The National Retail Federation, an industry association, predicts a busy season with more than 165 million Americans shopping over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to a Nov. 15 report. The report goes on to show that the largest number of violent incidents were reported at Walmart stores, which accounted for 57.1% of reported crimes; malls came in second with nearly 18% of incidents; and Toys-R-Us, Target and Best Buy all tied for third with 7.1%
Criminals aren’t planning to buy. They’d rather just take what you’ve bought. With that in mind, Ken Malcom, a 35 year Georgia Law Officer, offers advice for making your shopping experience a safe and successful one this year.
He says to “practice the ’10 Second Rule’. Practicing the ’10 Second Rule’ is a simple way to stay alert to what is happening around you.” Malcom states that “before parking your car, take 2 seconds to look around. Make sure to park in a well-lit area that is out in the open. Make sure the vehicle can be seen easily from any direction. Before exiting the vehicle, take 2 seconds to make sure no one suspicious is close to you. When exiting your vehicle, again take 2 seconds to scan for potential threats while walking to the shopping destination. Keep your purse on your body at all times while carrying a wallet in a front pants pocket or inside coat pocket”.
As a career law enforcement officer, Malcom has seen it all when it comes to criminal behavior. Ken Malcom has over three decades of experience in law enforcement in Newton and Walton Counties in Georgia. Pertaining to Black Friday shopping, Malcom went on to say “don’t make it easy for pickpockets or purse snatchers; Always keep one hand free.” Malcom also suggests that you “have your support hand free so if someone suddenly grabs you, you still have your strong arm and hand to fight back with.”
Malcom, a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA, went on to say “stop before you exit the store, take two seconds to look outside for potential threats. Have your keys in your hands before you approach your car and finally before you enter your vehicle, scan it to make sure it’s safe to enter. If you are putting items inside so you can go back into the store, keep them and all items of value hidden in the trunk. If you are leaving the store with a large item, ask for help getting it to the car.”
Malcom advises to “carry and use only one credit card and try not to use a debit card. This reduces headaches if a wallet or purse is stolen, and it makes tracking your purchases after the fact a much simpler task. Leave everything at home except the one dedicated credit card and a driver’s license. There is “safety in numbers”. Shop with a friend or family member. If you see limited store items, don’t fight over them. It is not worth it. If you are shopping with others, use the buddy system. If your kids are with you, make sure they know how to ask a security officer or store employee for help if you get separated. Tell them to remain in the store until you’re reunited and have a predetermine ‘meet-up’ spot if you do get separated.”
When asked about difficulties finding a parking spot, Malcom said “don’t fight over a parking space. If you encounter someone who is overly aggressive, it could escalate quickly into a situation that results in injury or arrest. When you park, Let your family members know where you parked and where you are going to be during the day by sharing your location with them using mobile apps on your phone. Call or text them after you finish at each store and when you’ve arrived safely back home and always keep your cell phone charged.”
Many shoppers will avoid the crowds and these situations altogether by doing their shopping online. This can be a more efficient and less stressful way to go, but there are some things that Malcom warns about as well. “When shopping online, use only secure websites. Look for a closed padlock in the browser bar or a URL that begins with “https.” The “s” stands for secure. Don’t risk shopping from a site that only has “http” in it’s browser name. Better yet, buy from retailers you know and have shopped with in the past whenever possible. Stick with established or familiar brands. Just like shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, use only one credit card and stay away from using a debit card. When shopping online, try to do it in the confines of your own home on a locked Wi-FI. Don’t use public Wi- Fi such as a Starbucks or anywhere else. Thieves are very sophisticated and can hijack the transmission of information through a public Wi-Fi.”
Malcom, being well-versed in public relations, has seen his share of scams. He says to “be careful about possible scams. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” With the increase in thieves grabbing packages from porches, Malcom commented, “Make sure your packages are picked up quickly to avoid the “porch pirates” that sometimes lurk in our neighborhoods.”
Finally, Malcom warns that if you see suspicious activity, please report it to law enforcement immediately. The only way for a community to truly be safe is for its citizens and police to unite and protect it together.
Ken Malcom has over three decades of experience in law enforcement. He has vast experience as an educator, teaching children and adults alike about safety. For more information about Malcom, go to https://www.kenmalcomforsheriff.com
Release ID: 88935869