Chief's Column: Be Wary While Shopping For The Holidays

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Grafton Police Chief Normand Crepeau Jr. is advising residents to be wary while shopping. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lord Paluzzi (file photo)

GRAFTON, Mass. - The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season.  This is a festive time for children and adults but remember... criminals love the holidays as much as everyone else, chiefly because it’s a perfect opportunity to commit a crime.  

As always, many shoppers will be out early to find those big bargains on Black Friday or online for Cyber Monday. 

For everyone’s protection, the Grafton Police Department would like to once again offer the following information provided by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to help you shop safely while getting those great holiday bargains throughout the shopping season.  This and other safety information may be found at www.ncpc.org.

  • Do not buy more than you can carry.  Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
  • If you see any sort of mob behavior beginning to occur, withdraw and leave the area. It's not worth getting trampled, hurt or even killed just to get a deal on something.
  • Make sure you have a cell phone with you in case you need to call the police in the event of a Black Friday emergency situation.
  • Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit. Report anything suspicious.
  • If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Select a central meeting place and make sure they know they can ask clearly identifiable mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
  • Shop online with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you are not familiar with it.
  • Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases.  Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
  • Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multiuse disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
  • Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
  • Deter pickpockets.  Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle.  Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.

Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519.  You may also email your questions or comments to chief@graftonpolice.com.  Please include an appropriate subject line, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.

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