You've heard all this before:
Don't go holiday shopping carrying all your credit cards. Take only the ones you plan to use.
For women, leave your purse at home. For men, carry your wallet someplace besides your back pocket.
Keep your kids close.
The Sheriff's Office reminds us all to be extra careful this holiday shopping season, for all the usual reasons plus a couple more.
Combine the sour economy with the high unemployment rate and you have fertile ground for hungry thieves.
"This time of year is very tempting for offenders," said Sgt. Troy Fergueson. "If you give the bad guys an opportunity, they'll take you up on it."
Fergueson uses terms such as "displacing risk," which sounds like something a statistics professor would expound on.
But in law enforcement, it means leaving your purse at home. Thieves take the path of least resistance, Fergueson says, so a woman with a bag over her shoulder is an easier target than one with credit cards and cash stuffed in various pockets.
When you're walking to your car, he suggests interlacing your keys between your fingers. A jab with a key might be just enough to scare off a bad guy.
But more importantly, he says, have your keys out by the time you reach your car. The best way to make yourself a target: fumble around with shopping bags in a dark parking lot while hunting for your keys.
Also, when going into other stores, always conceal bags and packages inside your car.
The Sheriff's Office will have an increased presence at the county's major shopping centers beginning Friday and on weekends through the end of the year, Fergueson said. That includes deputies on horseback patrolling parking lots, sheriff's volunteers and even plain-clothes deputies walking next to you in the mall.
"We'll be out in force," Fergueson said.
One last thing: Consumer confidence scams tend to spike this time of year too. Beware any deal that seems too good to be true. It probably is.
Yep, it's common-sense stuff. Be safe this holiday season.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.