Police warn to be careful

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 23, 1999

during shopping season


Staff Writer

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Nov. 22, 1999 10 PM

With the biggest shopping day of the year coming up on Friday, the holiday season will be in full swing. And law-abiding citizens are not the only ones who will head to area shopping centers. Criminals will be there, too.

Troy Police Department reminds citizens to be aware of their surroundings at all times so they may avoid being crime victims.

"When you shop, it may not be near home," said Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage. "You may be in unfamiliar surroundings."

To prevent yourself from becoming a victim of crime, you need to be aware of those surroundings and the people in them at all times, Everage said.

"We encourage people to shop locally where they know their surroundings," Everage added.

Besides being aware of where you shop, it is important to consider when you shop.

It is safer to shop during daylight hours, said Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, public information officer with the Troy Police Department. If you shop after dark, use buddy system and shop with a friend.

If at anytime you feel suspicious, you should speak to a store manager and call the police, Scarbrough said. If you feel uncomfortable in a parking lot, go back into the store and call for help.

"Many times when people are out shopping, they take their children," he said. "It is important to explain to your children what to do if you get separated.

"Teach children to ask a store clerk for help. A child should not go into a parking lot by himself or be left in a car alone."

Some safety tips are common sense, but people often overlook them in the holiday rush, Scarbrough said. Shoppers should not openly display money and keep purses and wallets close to your body.

"Park in a well-lit area as close to the shopping center entrance as you can," he said. "Make sure you close your windows and lock your doors.

"Store gifts, packages, purses, brief cases and cellular telephones in the trunk. Do not leave anything in plain view where individuals can see it."

Scarbrough added, "We want the holidays to be a special and joyous time of year. At the same time, we need to be aware and alert to the possibility of crime occurring."