'Tis the season for shopping and holiday cheer, but it's also the season for burglars, muggers and pickpockets to come out in force.
The Pinellas Park Police Department has sent out a list of tips for keeping safe this holiday season. (The tips are good for the rest of the year, too.)
- Travelers should set an automatic timer for lights and ask a trusted neighbor to watch their home and pick up their newspaper, collect the mail and occasionally park in the driveway.
- If you're only gone for the evening, turn on the lights and the TV or radio so it appears that someone is home. Lock the door even if you only go out for a few minutes. Hide any gifts in the house and don't leave them near windows where they can be seen.
- Cut off your holiday lights while you're gone.
- While shopping, keep alert and don't overburden yourself with packages. Be especially careful with purses and wallets. Do not leave them in cars or in a shopping cart or on a counter. Carry your purse close to your body and your wallet in an inside pocket.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash, just one debit or credit card and don't leave it lying on a counter or elsewhere.
- Park your car as close to your destination as possible and lock packages out of sight in the trunk. If you leave a store to put packages in your trunk while you continue to shop, move your car after you're stowed the packages in the trunk.
- When shopping at night, park in a well-lit area and try to shop with friends when possible.
- If you have children with you, make sure they know what to do if they become separated from you.
- Report suspicious activity to mall security or the police.
- Cybershoppers: Shop with known businesses and get the retailer's phone number and address as an alternate way to contact them if something goes wrong. Do not give out your Social Security number or driver's license. Neither is necessary to buy a product. Have packages delivered to an address where they will not be left unattended for long periods of time.
- While at home, turn on outside lights to deter burglars and report any suspicious activity to the police.
-Make sure your homeowners or renters insurance is up to date and that everything is properly inventoried. Double check your smoke alarms to make sure they work.
- The Pinellas Park police have one other tip - have a happy holiday season.