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Safety crucial during holiday shopping
Holiday shopping has begun, and police say 'tis the season to be wary.

Brunswick Police Officer Todd Rhodes says holiday shopping season is a time when criminals look to get rich off unprepared shoppers.

"The criminal element is out at the shopping areas waiting. If they see you put your purse in your trunk, all it takes is them smashing a window and pressing the trunk release," Rhodes said.

Rhodes said would-be thieves scope out store parking lots waiting to see where shoppers place their valuables.

"We like to encourage people first of all, before they ever leave the house, we prefer them to carry their wallets on them," Rhodes said.

"And please, ladies, put purses and pocketbooks, if you carry one, in the trunk of your car before you leave the house."

Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering says once inside the store, shoppers need to make sure they keep valuables close.

"No. 1, keep your hands on your bag. Don't leave it sitting in a shopping cart without your hands on it. It's too easy for criminals to get it when it's unattended," Doering said.

But some thieves are more bold, targeting people instead of items, Rhodes said.

"Shop in numbers. Shop with friends and family, because there's safety in numbers. And park close to establishments in well-lit areas," Rhodes said.

Shoppers also need to appear alert, Rhodes said.

"While walking either to the car or to the store, people need to have their heads up. Criminals are very sensitive to who is insecure and who might be an easy target," Rhodes said. "You want to project that you are confident and alert. They need to not see you as a victim."

Rhodes also suggests shoppers walk with their keys in hand. Keys can be used as a weapon in a pinch, and they can help shoppers enter their cars quickly.

Once shoppers get home, they should break down boxes from purchases and stow them out of sight in trash bins, he said.

"If nobody sees the huge boxes outside, because they are all broken down in the trash container, the house is less likely to be targeted by criminals," Rhodes said.

Homeowners should also keep exterior lights on and keep hedges trimmed to limit the available hiding spots in their yards, he said.

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