The Walton County Sheriff’s Office is offering some tips on how to be safe this holiday season.



Shopping Safety Tips



- Always walk and park in well-lit areas.
- While out and about, present an alert presence.
- Don’t electronically unlock your vehicle until you are within door opening distance. This helps stop a thief from getting into the car and waiting to strike when you least expect it.
- There is safety in numbers, shop with friends or relatives.
- Carry the day’s most expensive purchases closest to your body, and don’t carry so much you lose the ability to react quickly.
- Don’t flash large amounts of cash or offer tempting targets for theft such as expensive jewelry or clothing.
- Have car keys ready to use when you reach the car.



Vehicle Safety



- Always lock your car, even if you are away for only a few moments.
- Do not leave valuables – gifts, cell phones, purse or clothing – in open view in your car. Take valuables with you, lock them in your trunk, or cover them in an unobtrusive way.
- Thieves do their own form of window shopping. They look in parked cars for gifts and other merchandise, and will break through car windows to get at such valuables.
- When you return to your vehicle after your shopping trip, lock your car door as soon as you get in.



Home Safety



- Always lock your doors and windows, even if you plan to be out for a short while.
- Leave lights turned on both inside and outside your residence after dark.
- If you will be away from home for several days, make arrangements for someone to pick up your mail and newspapers or have a stop put on them.



Beware of Purse Snatchers



Everyone needs to be aware that thieves look forward to holidays as much as everyone else – maybe more so!  Please beware of purse snatchers; women carrying pocketbooks are easy prey. The thieves know that during the holidays, shoppers are distracted and are not as careful as they should be when out.



Here are some things that can be done to thwart the would-be thief:



- Keep your purse close to your body.
- If possible, avoid carrying a large purse when shopping.
- Carry only the credit cards you intend to use, leave the others behind.
- Use check cards or checks to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Use ATMs wisely. Have the card ready before approaching the machine, and use ATMs in high traffic areas.



Do Your Homework Before Donating To Charity



- Be wary of any organization that sends unsolicited e-mail to ask for donations. Do not open any attachment associated with suspect messages.
- If you want to give, find out how an organization accepts donations.
- For detailed reports that rate charities and tell you how your donations will be used, go to these national charity watchdog resources on the internet: www.give.org, www.charitynavigator.org.  For more information on local charities, contact the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. 
- Give to organizations with a history of service and commitment to the community.