The Omaha Police Department is working closely with local malls to provide increased presence at shopping centers this holiday season, but there are things people can do to deter becoming a victim.
The Omaha Police Department offers the following for staying safe during holiday shopping:
Park Smart: Park and walk in well lit, busy areas. Stay away from over-grown bushes and trees. Use valet parking or an attended garage if alone. Shop at locations that have police and/or security patrols.
Never display or "flash" cash or valuable personal items: If possible, don't leave valuables in car, put them in the trunk if necessary. Don't wear expensive jewelry while shopping or keep it to a minimum. Keep the amount of cash carried to a minimum, use credit cards. Carry only one major credit card so if your wallet is stolen, you only have one card to report. Carry cash in an unusual place instead of purse or wallet.
While walking through parking lot and public areas: Pay attention to surroundings, people, and vehicles. Do not approach situations that do not feel safe. Walk with confidence. Do not overload with packages. Carry purse close to your body and your wallet in your front pocket. Do not be distracted by talking on a cell phone or wearing headphones. Help others by reporting suspicious people to the police or security staff. Ask security to escort you if you feel uneasy.
When you reach your vehicle: Have your keys in your hand and alarm panic button ready to activate. Look into the vehicle and check for intruders before entering. Continuously scan the area while loading children and packages. Teach children to enter and exit the vehicle quickly. Roll up the windows and lock the doors as soon as you're inside. Make it a habit to always start your vehicle and drive away immediately.
Approached by suspicious persons: Be aware of strangers approaching for any reason. Don't be afraid to tell people to back off, scream for help, activate your car alarm. If you suspect that you're being followed, switch directions and immediately go to a well-lit area, crowded with people. If someone in a vehicle asks for directions, ignore them ore answer from a distance and keep walking, do not approach the vehicle.
If you become the victim of a crime: If approached by a person with a weapon, remember your life is worth more than the car and valuables. Keep records of credit card numbers and contact information in an easily accessible place and immediately report them if stolen. The quicker you report them, the less damage the robber can do. Call the police immediately to report the crime and provide detailed information. Your actions can help prevent someone else from becoming a victim.