Black Friday Safety Tips from FCPD

In online chat Tuesday, Fairfax County Police Department will answer readers' questions about the shopping extravaganza.

Have you made your shopping list for Black Friday yet?

One thing shoppers may have overlooked is a safety plan for the shopping extravaganza.

In 2011, police officers made 83 arrests during the holidays in the McLean Police District alone, for 63 felonies and 58 misdemeanors, according to the department. They recovered $44,977 worth of stolen goods and money, police said.

FCPD is hosting an online chat at 10 a.m. Tuesday in an effort to answer residents' questions and address their concerns. Questions can be submitted here.

In the meantime, the National Crime Prevention Council suggests having a personal safety plan for Black Friday shopping:

  • Don’t buy more items than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend or ask a store employee to help carry your packages to the car.
  • Shop online with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you are not familiar with it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
  • Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as one-time or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
  • Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to “shoulder surf” to get your account information.
  • Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
  • Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
  • If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Select a central meeting place and make sure they know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.


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