West Chester Township Police Department
Holiday Crime Prevention
During the holiday season, the West Chester Police Department encourages residents to observe a few "words of advice" while shopping in order to have the safest experience possible.
- When shopping, only bring along what is necessary to do your shopping. Leave everything else at home.
- Don't leave anything in your vehicle. This doesn't mean it's OK to hide your GPS under the seat or cover your purse with a coat or blanket. The thieves know the tricks!
- If you're shopping at multiple stores and you have to leave purchased items in your vehicle, put them in the trunk. If you drive an SUV, put the items in the very back and cover them with a dark-colored blanket. The tinted windows in the back and the dark blanket may make it harder to see your purchases. Remove items from your vehicle as soon as possible.
- If carrying a purse, wear the strap across your body to make it more of a deterrent to try and steal. Don't leave your purse sitting in the cart.
- If approached by a solicitor, stop them from a distance and tell them you are not interested in anything they have or want. Most solicitors approaching you in parking lots are con-artists, there to make money.
- Don't carry large amounts of cash and don't flash the cash you carry.
- Be aware of your surroundings, trust your gut and keep yourself in a position of advantage. This may mean finding a different parking space if the one that is up close to the store has a car next to it with someone sitting in it. If your intuition tells you something isn't right, listen to it.
- Always park in a well-lit area.
- Lock the car and set the alarm.
- Do not buy more than can be carried. Plan ahead and bring a friend to help carry packages to the car.
- Ladies, do not leave purses or purchases unattended and leave expensive jewelry at home when shopping.
- Men, do not lay wallets out on a counter while paying for items.
- Wait until asked before taking credit cards or checkbooks out of purses or pockets. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
- Whenever possible, swipe your own credit card and do not let the card out of your sight.
- Always cover the keypad when entering the PIN.
- Reduce the amount of credit and debit cards carried and never carry your Social Security Card.
- Reduce pick pocketing by carrying your purse close to your body or wallets inside a coat or front pocket.
- Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package.
- Remain aware of surroundings at all times and move to and from your vehicle with confidence and "purpose". Have keys ready before getting to your car so you do not have to search for them while standing near it.
- When taking a break from shopping, while out to lunch or grabbing some coffee, don't hang your purse on the back of your chair. Keep your purse in front of you. You can hang it on your knee or put it on the floor between your feet. Thieves can get into your purse very quickly and unnoticed when they are hanging on the backs of chairs.
- Report suspicious people or activity to law enforcement immediately!
For those who shop online, some equally important recommendations from West Chester Police:
- Secure personal computers by updating security software. All computers should have anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
- Keep personal information (including Social Security Number or birth date) private and your password secure.
- Beware of "bargains" from unfamiliar companies - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or "https" in the URL address.
- Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
- Use a credit card rather than a debit card for online purchases.
- Check credit statements online - do not wait until the end-of-the-month statement - to confirm payment and challenge errors.