O'Fallon Progress

How to stay safe while shopping this holiday season

City of O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham
City of O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham

The holidays are here, and if they haven’t already, shoppers will soon be heading to the stores to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. Gifts are nice, but this time of year always makes me reflect on what is truly important in my life, like family and friends.

The safety of our loved ones is important. While O’Fallon is an extremely safe community — in fact, 96 percent of respondents in the National Citizen Survey stated that they felt extremely safe in O’Fallon’s commercial areas — it never hurts to be prepared.

O’Fallon’s Public Safety Department is the best around. While many residents and visitors are shopping or spending time with family, the brave men and women of the O’Fallon Police Department are protecting this community.

O’Fallon’s Director of Public Safety, Police Chief Eric Van Hook, asked me to share some holiday safety tips with you. Please feel free to share this information with family, friends, and neighbors.

Driving/Parking:

▪  If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.

▪  Park as close as you can to your destination, and take notice of where you parked.

▪  Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.

▪  Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk, or put it out of sight.

▪  Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.

▪  Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.

▪  When approaching and leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.

▪  Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.

▪  If uncomfortable, ask mall or store security for an escort before leaving your shopping location.

Using Automated Teller Machines (ATM):

▪  If you must use an ATM, choose one that is located near a police station, mall, or well-lighted location. Withdraw only the amount of cash you need.

▪  Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone who is standing near you.

▪  Do not throw your ATM receipt away at the ATM location.

Shopping:

▪  Shop during daylight hours whenever possible. If you must shop at night, go with a friend or family member.

▪  Avoid wearing expensive jewelry. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

▪  Do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. Only carry necessary cash, checks and/or a credit card you expect to use. If you are carrying cash, keep it in your front pocket.

▪  Be extra careful if you do carry a wallet or purse. They are the prime targets of criminals in crowded shopping areas and public transportation locations.

▪  Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, stay alert to your surroundings.

▪  Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused.

▪  Keep a record of all your credit card numbers in a safe place at home.

▪  Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

▪  Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

▪  Please remember, if you see something suspicious, call 911 immediately.

The safety of our residents and their loved ones is very important to me, and by working together, we can make sure that everyone remains safe and sound during the holiday season. The strong working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O’Fallon is such a great community in which to live.

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