Posted on 12/09/2011, by Jeremy Edsall
Credible Warning? Just Be Aware
I'm sure from time to time you get different e-mails from friends and relatives warning of various things from computer viruses to e-mail schemes. My first advice is to do the equivalent of "ask an expert", which means to search Google. I usually start with the subject line since these e-mails circulate like chain letters across the Internet and individuals e-mail accounts. You'll find out pretty quick if what you are reading is truthful or full of B.S..
Today's email seems credible, and I can see someone trying this. It's good to review some common sense practices for being out and about during this time of year. Parking lots can be full of danger, especially if you may have valuables or cash for thieves to target. Unfortunately women always need to be alert, especially at night and in poorly lit parking lots, and garages.
The alert that was sent to me cautions to be aware of paper attached to the back window of your car.
The thinking is, and here is where the danger lies, is that you will get into your car, start it up and begin to back up when you look in the rear view mirror and see a piece of paper annoyingly in your view. You'll put your car in park, still running, and if you have automatic locks will be unlocked, to grab this piece of paper. This is when a carjacker or thief will quickly either jump into your car and take it, or grab anything of value you may have in the vehicle like a shopping bag or purse. If your purse is in the car then the thief has access to your personal information, credit cards etc., and now also has the keys to your home or apartment.
They say this is starting to be reported to police so just be aware.
Unfortunately it can be dangerous out there so use common sense when out shopping by following this advice:
• Be Alert and Aware. Look at your surroundings, and if someone or something
doesn't seem right don't take a chance. Wait till the potential danger has passed
or person has left.
• Keep your purse close to you. Keep your wallet in your pocket. Don't leave in store
shopping carts or place on store counters.
I always tell my children, "If it's of value, keep it on you, in your pocket,
and don't leave it somewhere where you can't see it and where someone
might have access to it." - Just my 2 cents worth, having a 14 and 18 yr old.
Last year while shopping my wife and I noticed a set of keys on a store
cosmetics counter. The keys looked like they were from a rental car and
had a tag with the make, model and licence number of the car!
If your children are shopping keep hold of their money. Little purses or
wallets can be easily misplaced, especially if they are involved in playing
with toys or in play areas of malls. The same goes for mittens, teddy bears,
or anything else they can't leave home without. You keep track, avoid the
tears and having to replace the money Grandma and Grandpa gave them.
• Write down your credit and debit card numbers and keep in a safe place. If
they become lost or stolen it will make it easier when reporting them to banks
and credit card companies.
Watch those credit card bills if you've been shopping on-line. Last year a
credit card company called me to ask if I indeed wanted to buy airplane tires!
I'm serious, someone was trying to by airplane parts with my credit card.
I told them "I don't have a pilots license or airplane, so no I don't need new tires."
• Don't leave anything unattended. Keep it close to you so it isn't forgotten.
Out with my daughter we stopped for lunch. She placed her large bag on the
seat across from her. When we left, she forgot the bag, thankfully when we
returned it was where we had left it.
• Avoid crowded shopping areas, you're most likely to be pick pocketed in a crowd.
• Don't bring a lot of cash or credit cards with you. Carry only what you need. Pay
as close to the transaction amount as possible, avoiding large bills. Don't carry
envelopes full of cash.
This reminds me of poor old Uncle Billy in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life",
Don't be an Uncle Billy. If you haven't seen the movie, and some haven't, Billy
goes to make an important bank deposit and mistakenly winds up giving to a
business rival. He makes an honest mistake but the rival doesn't give the
• If you are placing items in your car, keep them in the trunk and out of sight of
thieves. Keep all your valuables out of sight in your car.
After the holidays the kids might have new gadgets, hand held video games, tablet
computers, I-pods, phones etc., keep them at home or hidden away if they are
leaving them in the car.
• Park and shop in areas that are well lit. If a local store shopping center is poorly lit,
shop there during the day. Most malls have security that can assist you to getting
to your car if you have to park in a poorly lit area.
• Again, BE ALERT! Get your keys out before leaving the store and carry them with
you. Most self-defense courses will usually mention how keys can be used as a
weapon against an attacker, but that's another topic. Fumbling for keys makes you
inattentive,taking your attention way from anyone who may be watching you.
• As you approach the car look to make sure the doors are fully closed and that
there is no one inside. Of course always check to make sure all car doors are
locked before you walk away from it.
Again with the kids, one always seems to forget to lock the door. If you
have manual locks walk around the car to ensure that no doors have been
left unlocked. And if you have automatic locks walk around and make sure
all the doors are locked and windows are closed. You never know.
• Use ATM's wisely always! Remember this time of year, Tis the season of
opportunity for robbers! Make sure your ATM location is well lit, and avoid
using when alone or late at night. Keep those PIN numbers locked up safely,
inside your brain!
BE SAFE EVERYBODY, ENJOY THIS TIME OF YEAR BUT USE COMMON SENSE,
BE AWARE, AND DON'T BE A VICTIM OF CRIME!
We encourage you to review safety information, you can search
"holiday shopping safety"
on-line for more tips. Be sure to review these tips with your family.
portions of this blog were adapted from information from the Miami-Dade Police