AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) –It is the season of shopping and people are flocking to the mall and other stores to find items on their Christmas lists. However, this is not only the season for holiday shopping but also porch and car thefts. While shopping, according to Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas, individuals should keep safety at the top of their minds.
Thomas said when leaving the mall to stay alert, people should pay attention to cars that may be driving slowly through the parking lot.
“If you see something like that, turn around and go back in. Mall security is out there, and they will walk you to your car, whatever you need to do,” Thomas said. “The other thing is don’t carry so much stuff in your hands that you can’t even protect yourself. Be able to protect yourself and if someone does come up to you, drop the packages. That all can be replaced. You can’t. So, it’s not worth fighting for, just let them have it.”
Thomas encouraged people to put all of their shopping bags in the trunk of their cars so that it’s out of sight. He added that also using their keys as protection or investing in a whistle could help keep them safe.
“The other thing is to go in groups. Take some girls with you, take some guys with you and go shop together,” Thomas said. “Take your husband with you. Just don’t be alone by yourself in those dark hours. Make sure when you do park, to park under a light and make sure that light works and park under it, so you have some lighting around your car as well.”
Amarillo Police Department’s Sergeant Carla Burr talked about steps people can take when doing holiday shopping online and getting their packages delivered.
“Just don’t have them deliver it to your house, if they are going to deliver it in the morning and it’s going to be out there all day,” Burr said. “If you have them deliver it to your house then watch for the delivery. Have someone who can pick it up within a few minutes. Unfortunately, a lot of people who do these porch thefts, they are literary driving around following the UPS, FedEx, the mailman watching for packages to be dropped. Then they will just walk down the block and do that so, you want to have it picked up within a few moments.”
According to Thomas, Potter County will be offering a free service to residents to keep their packages safe during this holiday season. Residents will be able to have their package delivered to Potter County Sheriff’s Office so that it’s in a secure spot. Once the package is delivered to the sheriff’s office with the person’s name who ordered it, the person will receive a notification to pick it up. They will be able to pick it up anytime. If it’s after 4 p.m., the person will have to call the dispatcher so they can let them in.
Burr said when people are doing their holiday shopping online, they should make sure to research the website they will be buying items from. She encouraged that people use a third party like PayPal to add that layer of protection and keep their credit card information safe.