CONTACT: Jim Lowney, 908-527-4711
Seb D’Elia, 908-527-4419


Your Holiday Guide
to Safe Shopping and Celebrating

By Ralph Froehlich
Union County Sheriff


‘Tis the season to shop, celebrate
and share with family and friends.

Unfortunately, it is also the time of year when pickpockets, muggers and other thieves are out to spoil our Yuletide
cheer. Following some important safety tips can help keep this a happy and healthy holiday season.

sheriff froehlich

Be Alert: Shop prepared. Walk confidently, with your head up, and stay in
well-lighted and well-traveled areas.

Pay attention to people around you, particularly in crowded areas that are preferred by pickpockets.

If you carry a purse, keep it close to your body.

Handbags with a flap that covers the contents are the safest; keep the flap side toward your body. Keep your keys separate from your address and identification.

If you are carrying a wallet, keep it in your front pocket or an inside coat pocket.

As tempting as it might be to get all your shopping done at one time, be mindful that it is more difficult to protect yourself and your belongings when your arms are
full of bags.

Be discreet: Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Credit and check cards are safer and easier to use. In most cases, individuals are protected against fraud; check with your bank or credit card company to be sure.

Dress casually: Thieves and pickpockets are more likely to be attracted by expensive clothes and jewelry.

Be secure: Park your car as close to your destination as possible. Do not park next to vans—their large size can block thieves from view and make kidnappings easier.

If possible, don’t leave bags or packages on your back seat in full view of potential thieves.

When approaching your home or car, have your keys in hand to limit your exposure.

Check your back seat and floor areas for anyone who may be hiding there. And of course, be sure to lock all your doors and windows—even when you are in the car.

Be prepared: Help keep your children safe while shopping.

Be aware of their location. Teach them to go to a store clerk or a uniformed security guard if you get separated.

Most shopping malls have procedures in place for lost children. As soon as you realize your child is missing, notify a store or mall employee who can contact security. Do not delay an organized search.

Many injuries occur to adults and children on shopping trips. Every year more than 15,000 children age 5 and under are treated for injuries associated with shopping carts and thousands more children are hurt in escalator accidents, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 8 percent of all violent crimes occur in commercial establishments.

Be sober: During the holiday season the number of traffic accidents and injuries rises.

In 2006, more than 17,000 people died in alcohol-related auto accidents--forty-one percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you are going to drink, don’t drive. Be sure your friends and family members don’t either.

Be well. Be safe. Happy Holidays!