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Tips for staying safe while shopping during the holidays

For many holiday shoppers in New Jersey, time spent in stores and shopping malls can be fun even if stressful at times. Unfortunately, not everyone in a mall is there to spread holiday cheer. Thieves and other criminals often go to malls during the holidays with the express purpose of taking advantage of the crowds and confusion. For this reason, keep safety in mind at all times by observing the following tips.

First, be attentive. Thieves love to target people who are distracted or focused intently on one thing and not on what is around them. One good strategy is to shop with friends and keep an eye out for each other.

Second, do not leave valuables visible in a vehicle. Thieves target more than busy shopping malls; they know that parking lots are often jammed with vehicles stuffed with merchandise. Stashing valuables in a trunk is better than leaving them in plain sight, but be sure to park in well-lit locations, especially those that have some security personnel, before depositing purchases in a car trunk.

Third, carry only enough cash and credit cards to last one shopping trip. Although an extra card or extra cash is useful when shoppers go over their intended budgets, too much of it, especially when openly displayed, is likely to catch the attention of thieves. In addition, never provide credit card information freely; be sure a retail clerk actually works for a store.

Fourth, never leave bags, gifts or valuables unattended anywhere, but especially not in food courts.

Shoppers can do their best to keep themselves and their money safe, but New Jersey's mall operators and owners must do their part as well. Property owners can be held liable in a premises liability lawsuit if an unsafe condition on their property results in an injury.

Source: AZCentral.com, "8 tips for safe holiday shopping from Peoria Police Department," Amanda Jacinto, Dec. 3, 2014

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