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    How to stay safe while shopping for the holidays

    Crime statistics show robberies and thefts of personal property spike this time of year.

    ATLANTA — We’re only one month away from Christmas — can you believe it?

    Shoppers are on the lookout for a good deal on the perfect gift.

    However, statistics from the Department of Justice show robberies and thefts of personal property spike this time of year. So do shoplifting, identity theft, and scams.

    We’ve got some tips from law enforcement. And we talked to shoppers at Lenox Square Mall about how they’re staying safe.

    Guadalupe Peña hit the busy mall the day after Black Friday.

    “We’re here shopping for family,” Peña said.

    When battling the hustle and bustle of thousands of other shoppers at the mall, sometimes shoppers can lose sight of prioritizing safety.

    Hoiman Mak said she keeps her bags close.

    “Especially these kind of small bags—just hold it with you all the time,” Mak said, “And then, items like this, just try to group it together.”

    Mak was shopping with Sha Sha Liao, who went shopping for Black Friday the day prior. They’re already following Gwinnett County Police’s first tip, which is to shop with a friend.

    “We look out for each other’s property when we try other clothing,” Liao said.

    Mak learned her lesson when a friend was a victim of a crime.

    “My friend was on her phone. And a group of people surround her,” Mak said. “And then, because she (wasn’t) aware about her surrounding(s), they took her phone away.”

    That’s why Dekalb County Police suggest avoiding cellphone use when leaving stores. This is a big warning for Generation Z, who scrolls the most, according to Insider Intelligence. Peña knows all about that and said she puts her phone away.

    “Don’t walk with your phone, staring down,” Peña said. “Don’t be on phone calls, looking around—stuff like that. Be very vigilant.”

    Here are some other tips from Gwinnett Police:

    • Stay alert to your surroundings

    • Carry only the credit cards and identifications you will need

    • Do not place your purse in the shopping cart

    • Do not place your cell phone on the table while dining

    • Do not place your wallet on a counter when paying for items

    • If you have children, rehearse what you will do in case you get separated

    Protective big brother Victor Sagastume said he keeps an eye on little Sophie. And he’s mindful of where the bags go, too. Law enforcement discourages drivers from leaving bags in the car.

    “Just keep them with us until we get to the car and just leave them in there,” Sagastume said. “And then, we go home.”

    That way, criminal’s stockings will be stuffed with coal instead of what they took from shoppers.


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