The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday urged holiday shoppers to take some common-sense personal-security precautions to protect themselves from thieving Scrooges and Grinches who can put a serious damper on the festive season.

“Criminals don’t take the holidays off,” the regional enforcement agency noted in public advisory. “Instead, they often find more opportunities to victimize people, especially those who are distracted or alone.”

In a bid to prevent such crimes, deputies will be patrolling in busy shopping centers in neighborhoods within the department’s areas of jurisdiction, according to sheriff’s officials.

In Encinitas, San Marcos and Vista, these efforts will include deployments of the department’s SkyWatch apparatus, a lookout platform lifted by a crane two stories above ground to provide a bird’s-eye vantage point in mall parking lots.

To help shoppers protect themselves from crooks, sheriff’s officials provided the following tips for the holiday season and throughout the year:

  • Shop during the day when possible, and bring along at least one companion
  • Park in a well-lit area, lock your car doors and carry valuables with you
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Don’t overload your arms with packages
  • Be aware of how you carry your purse or wallet — don’t make it easy for someone to snatch
  • Have your keys out and ready when approaching your car after shopping
  • If you absolutely must drop off purchases at your car and continue shopping, consider moving it to another parking spot in case there are criminal spotters lurking. This tactic could make a thief think you are done with your shopping and heading home

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock