MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the busiest time of the year for shoppers. Many people wait until now for the special bargains stores use to lure shoppers in. Retailers depend on sales in this month to make much of their profit for the year.

With all of those bags full of purchases, cars loaded between stops, and shoppers with extra tempting wallets, the holiday shopping season is also tempting for thieves. Purse snatching, pick-pocketing, distraction thefts, and car break-ins are all crimes to be aware of this time of year. Shoppers are targets, unless they pay attention to some simple safety rules that can help prevent their holiday from being ruined.

The Miami-Dade Police Department, like many communities, has a special holiday program to ward off the criminals and help keep shoppers safe. Their “Grinchbusters” have suggestions for making your shopping trips safer.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings. People who are aware are less likely to become victims.
  • Carry your purse over your shoulder and close to your body. Do not keep wallets or money in back pockets or in a backpack that can be easily opened.
  • Keep a list of the contents of your wallet, including credit card numbers, in a secure place. In the event these items are stolen, this will facilitate the reporting process.
  • Never leave your purse, wallet or packages unattended.
  • Beware of pick-pockets, especially in crowded areas.
  • Carry only the amount of cash or credit cards that you need.
  • Avoid storing any purchased items inside your vehicle.
  • Park your vehicle in a well lit area. If your vehicle is parked in a dark area, request for security to escort you to your vehicle when you are done shopping.
  • As you walk towards your vehicle, have your car keys in hand. Avoid fumbling through your purse while in the parking lot.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked and the windows are closed before you walk away from it.
  • If you encounter vehicle trouble, such as a flat tire while shopping, request assistance from security or return to the information counter in the shopping center.
  • When using the ATM, make sure it is not in a secluded location and is well lit. Go directly to your vehicle and avoid counting your cash while at the ATM.
  • Avoid carrying information regarding personal identification numbers (PIN) or other personal access numbers.
  • Avoid carrying your social security card, passport, birth certificate, etc.

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