How to Be Safe While Shopping
When you’re out running errands and purchasing items for your family, you want to feel safe and protected. And while the number of crimes in the United States has been steadily decreasing in recent years, there still is a need to be vigilant to protect your family and your possessions.
In this article, we’ll discuss a number of ways to be safe while shopping and protect your family, both at home and while shopping at your favorite stores, including:
- Avoid Leaving Valuables Unattended
- Keeping Your Children and Dependents Safe
- Consider Owning a Firearm
- Think Like a Criminal
- Avoid Shopping at Night
- Stay Alert
- Avoid Dangerous Neighborhoods and Areas
Avoid Leaving Valuables Unattended
In a matter of seconds, a criminal can grab your expensive belongings and disappear while you’re out shopping, either from your vehicle, home, or directly from you.
First, if possible, consider leaving your valuables at home and locked securely before shopping. Items of value can draw attention to you and make you a potential target for not only theft, but also assault and other serious crimes. Therefore, consider leaving the following items locked up and/or out of sight:
- Cell phones
- Wrapped presents
- Expensive clothing and jewelry
Shopping is often an all-day, multi-stop experience as you purchase more goods and run errands, so leaving your valuable unattended will be a constant task for you to complete. For particularly high-value purchases, you may want to run these items back to your home for increased security.
Because of the ubiquity of smartphones in our modern culture, it may be difficult to leave a smartphone home, but you can certainly take it with you instead of docking it in your vehicle. It can be a habit to leave it docked on your dashboard for directions and taking calls. However, this habit can lead to you leaving a phone in your car simply as an oversight – creating the perfect chance for thieves to grab it, especially if you accidentally leave your vehicle unlocked.
There will be some degree of risk involved while your valuables are in your vehicle, but you can change your behavior to keep a watchful eye. Assuming that you’re driving, you’ll want to stay close to your vehicle unless it is in parking garage with dedicated security personnel. If this option isn’t available, you may want to park near to a restaurant, for instance, so that you have an eye on your vehicle while you enjoy a meal. Car alarms can also be a great deterrent and give you peace of mind for your valuables, but experienced car thieves are now using ever-more sophisticated methods to hack cars, disable alarms, and even remotely start vehicles.
Having a home security system can keep your home safe while you’re out and about. With today’s smarthome systems , you can monitor your home remotely to keep a watchful eye on your valuables and alert police if your home is being burgled. However, just as criminals can defeat car alarms, criminals can defeat home security systems – and may even be able to monitor when you come and go using the same technology that you used to protect yourself.
Of course, no home is safe without physical security measures. Traditionally, these include door locks, combination locks, deadbolts, and so forth. These can be fine for providing base-level security, but a criminal with readily available locksmithing tools and minimal training can easily defeat these security measures.
Be sure to avoid leaving your valuables within viewing distance of windows. Even though it may be behind secure doors, windows are much less resistant to break-ins. Simply neglecting to shut and lock windows is fairly common in most households, which can render all of your other security measures moot. You can go one step further by installing Nightlock’s commercial-grade campus security shades, which create an opaque barrier that criminals cannot see through.
Nightlock currently offers its own line of patented products specifically designed for occupied residences, where you can use the strength of your home’s floor and door that is highly-resistant to brute-force methods. This is a great option if you have someone at home that needs to be protected in addition to your possessions.
There’s also been a recent trend for security experts to repurpose Nightlock’s commercial devices for cutting-edge home security. These devices enable users the ability to fortify their home’s entrance ways, while also enabling users disable these devices from the outside using a specially-designed tool.
Furthermore, Nightlock has expanded its devices to incorporate “LockDown Alert”, which adds an integrated response to emergency personnel when
Keeping Your Children and Dependents Safe
Being responsible for children, disabled individuals, and the elderly while you’re shopping requires extra vigilance. Whether they accompany you at the store or remain at home, you need to be wary of attracting the attention of criminals and implement security measures to keep them safe.
Just as you practice safe habits for yourself while shopping, children and dependents require you to protect them with smart decision-making and preventative measures. The following are some common tips to keep your children and dependents safe when you’re at the mall, shopping for groceries, and elsewhere:
- Keep your children and dependents within sight, even if they have phones to contact you with.
- Alert store employees immediately if you can’t find your children. Employees of most businesses can initiate a store lockdown and search for your missing child(ren) through a safety program called “Code Adam”.
- Bathrooms are common areas of exploitation, so accompany them there as necessary.
- Warn them about stranger danger and common tactics that individuals play when you may not be around. For example, you’ll want to talk to them about common scams and tactics that criminals use to steal their belongings and/or cause them harm.
- Rehearse what you will do in case you get separated, such as establishing where the central meeting place is and what to do when they’re lost, such as ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
When you’re not home, children and dependents are at risk. If you don’t have a spouse or responsible family member to watch them, you may want to hire a trusted babysitter while you’re away. Be sure to address security concerns with them and ensure that they know how to use your home’s security measures.
Check in with your children by phone often if they’re at the age where you trust them to be home alone. The same goes for elderly or disabled individuals. A phone call asking about any suspicious activity can raise your alarm bells before they understand the danger they could potentially be in.
Last, you’ll want to have a plan to keep them safe beforehand. Teach them how to arm security devices, who they can contact if you’re not around, which neighbors they should go to in the event of a break-in, and so forth.
Consider Owning a Firearm
For those that feel particularly threatened by violent criminals while out shopping, a firearm offers you the ability to counteract a criminal that is violating your personal security. You may be wary about carrying a firearm, but having a defense measure offers you the most protection and peace of mind for vulnerable individuals. This is especially true when compared to other types of personal security devices, such as pepper spray.
According to Gun Owners of America (GOA), firearms have the potential to save your life while shopping, often without fatal or traumatic consequences: “Of the 2.5 million times citizens use their guns to defend themselves every year, the overwhelming majority merely brandish their gun or fire a warning shot to scare off their attackers. Less than 8 percent of the time, a citizen kills or wounds his/her attacker.”
You may want to keep the firearm within reach, either in your vehicle’s glovebox or on your person. Be advised that not all commercial establishments allow you to carry a firearm on their premises, so follow these restrictions accordingly.
Every state offers citizens the ability to obtain a concealed carry permit, some with more difficulty and cost than others. By adhering to these laws and guidelines, you can gain safety and peace of mind while shopping in public.
Despite the best security precautions and countermeasures, there are still a wide number of instances where criminals have broken through barriers during home-invasions. When coming face to face with a threat that isn’t deterred by verbal warnings or physical measures, a firearm can mean the difference between life and death for your home’s unprotected individuals.
Proper training is advised for gun owners and homes with firearms. Strongly consider educating your entire family on how to handle firearms. Adequate storage is also a necessity when firearms are in your homes, including gun safes and secure cabinets so guns don’t get into the wrong hands.
Think Like a Criminal
Part of not becoming a victim while shopping is to vicariously enter the mindspace of a criminal. Developing situational awareness is an important skill to stay safe while shopping. Remember that criminals often look for low-risk high-reward scenarios, so think accordingly.
Your intuition helps keep you safe by alerting you to anomalies in patterns of behavior. While your conscious mind might be concentrating on navigating stores, driving, or deciding on what to buy, your subconscious mind analyzes potential threats and may make you feel when danger is present for you and your family. Even if you can’t perceive danger, you should trust your gut feeling. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Also, look for any anomalies in the behavior of individuals and don’t be afraid to question the motives of strangers that you meet throughout the day. For example, you may see an individual aimlessly wandering through a parking lot instead of going about their day. Or, you might observe a group of individuals working in tandem, where one distracts shoppers by asking them to fill out a survey while another robs their vehicles.
That being said, most crimes are committed when an opportunity presents itself. Some of these opportunities may include:
- parking away from surveillance cameras,
- leaving your vehicle running while your run into a store,
- forgetting to lock your car doors,
- or while struggling with heavy packages.
Instead, you’ll want to:
- park near cameras/security personnel,
- turn off your vehicle every time you leave it,
- always lock your doors,
- and ask store employees to assist you to your car if you cannot physically handle your purchases.
Be sure to do a few security checks while shopping and pay attention to any coincidences throughout your day. You want to be aware of any vehicles that may be following you or individuals that stalk your behavior at a distance.
Your home is vulnerable when it is unoccupied or when susceptible individuals are left alone.
65% of burglaries occur during the day, more specifically between the hours of 6am to 6pm. The reasons for this timespan is that many homes are left unattended while occupants are at work or shopping before stores close. This can make you a target of either premeditated crimes, where motivated criminals can stake out your home while you are going from store to store. Or, they can be crimes of opportunity, where an individual or a group decides to cause harm or steal your property in an instant.
In either instance, the broken window theory is a popular idea about criminal behavior. Essentially, if your home looks run-down or seems neglected, it will draw more criminal behavior than homes that are well-kept and maintained. For example, if you have a visitor that comes to your home in the guise of an utility worker, they may be scoping out your home for what security measures you have. Seeing that your home has Nightlock devices installed, criminals will immediately assume that your home is secure.
The aforementioned situational awareness also applies to keeping your home safe while you’re out shopping. For example, you may have noticed an unfamiliar car parked in your neighborhood or an individual walking around that may have glanced at your home. You may try to rationalize these occurrences, but your subconscious may give you a feeling of worry that needs to be addressed.
It may seem like an obvious statement, but the key to staying safe while shopping is simply having the energy to be alert at all times.
If you’re planning on shopping all day or after a long day of chasing the latest sales, it may be a smart decision to grab a pick-me-up like a coffee or pastry to boost your blood sugar. Decreased energy levels can make you less alert and sluggish, making you a target for criminals that are looking for weakened individuals. Therefore, you may want to leave heavy meals as the last activity before you head home. And for those that suffer from diabetes, it’s important to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels and take necessary medication you need to stay vigilant.
Also, consider all the items that you’re buying and how you’ll get it to your vehicle. If you buy more than you can carry, you become potentially more vulnerable by becoming fatigued, plus you make yourself more visible to potential thieves. If you’re having trouble carrying a new air conditioner unit, what’s the likelihood that you’ll be able to fend off an attacker?
Having to worry about how protected your home is can drain your energy and leave you worn out while shopping. To counteract this, it’s important to have a checklist for your family of what to secure when leaving the home. A checklist can ensure that your home is adequately protected without having to remember if you secured your sliding backdoor with Nightlock or not.
It can also be draining to constantly check in to your home on your smartphone’s remote surveillance apps. Nightlock can give you the peace of mind to shop easy, knowing that there’s a layer of protection between your family/valuables and criminals. As mentioned before, Nightlock offers the ability to monitor your home remotely and sends out an alert when a door barricade has been breached. This can be a substantially better alternative than home security systems, which are often more of a nuisance than effective.
Avoid Dangerous Neighborhoods and Areas
One of the most obvious ways to stay safe while shopping is to simply avoid high-crime areas. For those that live in those areas, it’s important to take action to protect your family and possessions.
Rundown neighborhoods tend to be higher in crime, so if you find yourself shopping there, you should take extra precautions to protect your family and possessions (see above). If there are alternative shops and restaurants that can provide you with what you need in better areas, it may be worth the extra drive and hassle to shop there.
If you know that you’ll be visiting an area that’s near places of income inequality, be prepared for more opportunistic criminals. Criminals often will target individuals in these areas with the belief that more wealthy individuals don’t have the same concerns and awareness that those in lower-income areas. This includes anything from identity theft to violent crime.
If your home is in a high-crime neighborhood, it’s important to have comprehensive security measures in place as soon as possible. Protecting your home with
Because of the danger, you’ll want to establish firm habits to keep your home protected. For example, drawing Nightlock’s line of campus security shades on all of your windows every time you leave the house is a good practice to get into. Instead of allowing prying eyes to look into your home, your home offers no visual information on the home’s contents and occupancy. Installation is quick and easy with the attached industrial strength adhesive and the blackout fabric makes it hard for sunlight or prying eyes to get through.
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As you can see, keeping your family and home safe while shopping requires active vigilance and preparation. Nightlock’s line of door barricade devices has been proven to protect thousands of individuals in the United States , securing homes against theft, burglary, and other serious crimes. Contact Nightlock today to speak with a company representative about which steps you can take to make your home safe and gain the peace of mind your family deserves.
Check out this other topic “Pairing Home Automation with Security”