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Shoppers and thieves will be out in force on Friday

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Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 12:00 am

With the shopping season kicking off this Friday, Nov. 27, consumers aren’t the only ones looking for something special.

Thieves will also be out in force, looking to separate unwary shoppers from their gifts, credit cards and cash.

“There is no question that we will see an increase in burglaries from vehicles and thefts,” Officer Rick Tamburo said. “People will break into cars to steal a package, even if there is just one.”

But Tamburo said there are things that people can do to cut the odds of becoming a victim.

“First and foremost, lock your vehicle and don’t leave any possessions in you car,” Tamburo said.

He suggested that if you are planning a big shopping day, to break it up with stops at home to unload purchases so gifts don’t pile up in your car or trunk.

“They can break into your trunk as fast as they can break into your car,” Tamburo said.

Women should watch their purses and wallets when shopping, especially in crowded stores where pickpockets can easily move through a crowd.

“Women often leave their purses in the front seat of a shopping cart and if you are shopping with 10,000 other people, all trying to get the same items, it can be gone in no time at all,” Tamburo said. “Keep your purse zipped and on your shoulder or in front of you.”

Also helping to keep thieves at bay, most larger businesses hire extra security for Friday. Phoenix police will work to present a high profile presence in shopping areas to help discourage thefts and burglaries.

Friday may, or may not, be the biggest shopping day of the year, but there is no doubt that people will be flocking to the Ray Road and 48th Street area to scoop up specials. Tamburo, and the Better Business Bureau, both recommend using credit cards instead of cash when hitting the stores.

One reason is that purchases made with a credit cared make it easier to return items that turn out to not be right.

But it also means less risk for shoppers.

“If you are walking around with hundreds of dollars of cash and something happens: it’s gone. But if (thieves) take your credit cards, you have the protection of the bank,” Tamburo said.

A key part of personal safety is to always be aware of your surroundings, Tamburo stressed.

• If a parking lot looks so dark that there could be people lurking in the shadows, ask the business for an escort to your car.

• When loading and unloading packages, don’t leave purses or items in a cart where passersby can pick them up while you are distracted.

• In a crowd keep track of your purse, wallet and possessions, or step away from a crowded situation if it seems too chaotic.

“Be patient and use common sense. Nothing is worth getting hurt over or getting into a fight over,” Tamburo added.

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