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Hide those Black Friday buys from thieves

With the biggest shopping season of the year in full swing, Lawton Fort Sill residents should be aware of their surroundings, whether they're at home or on-the-go, to avoid property victimization.

Lawton Police Sgt. Tim Jenkins, public information officer, advises the community to take preventative measures against burglary and identity theft even after Black Friday ends and the Christmas holiday begins.

At home, in the car

Jenkins said the most effective action in preventing burglary is to lock the doors of houses and vehicles. Before locking doors, residents should move wrapped gifts and other purchases out of plain view, especially residents who store their children's Christmas presents in their vehicles.

"Make sure you put your presents in the trunk, or you cover them up (with a blanket)," Jenkins said. " ... When you go out, have a game plan of where you're going to go, what stores you're going to go to and be able to secure your items."

At home, residents should close their blinds and make sure that when they light up their Christmas tree in the living room, the presents underneath the tree are not visible to outsiders, Jenkins added.

At the store, online

Shoppers who are carrying their bags from the store to their vehicles may be a target for robbers, and those who are unable to defend themselves should give robbers their bags, Jenkins said.

"There is no gift out there ... that's worth your life or getting hurt," Jenkins said. 

Shoppers should always carry their receipts in their wallets or pockets  not in their shopping bags  because if they are robbed, they can report the crime and show proof of purchase, Jenkins said. 

Shoppers should also pay close attention to the appearance of the robber and relay such details to police.

"Give a description of the suspect: what they're wearing and if they're in a car. Get a tag number and a direction of travel," Jenkins said.

Shoppers, whether online or in-store, are also at risk for identity theft, and there are three main precautions to take. First, shoppers may carry wallets with plates that guard against passersby who have credit card scanners, Jenkins said.

"People do have technology now where they can just walk by your pocket and scan your information on their phone and have your card information," he said. "(The plate in the wallet) stops people from walking by and scanning in your wallet and getting your credit card information."

To view a selection of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) blocking wallets, visit https://www.walmart.com/c/kp/rfid-blocking-wallets.

Second, shoppers who are purchasing gifts online should only do so from trusted sites. A computer will alert a shopper if a site is not secure, and shopper should believe that alert and exit the site, Jenkins said.

The Lawton Constitution

102 SW 3rd, Lawton, OK
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