How to keep your holiday purchases safe

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You’ve heard the warnings from police: lock your cars, park under lights, don’t leave valuables in plain sight.

Despite the advice, CrimeTracker 10 found plenty of crimes targeting unsuspecting shoppers as they hit the stores during the holidays.

And not just at the major shopping malls either.

CrimeTracker 10 looked at popular shopping centers throughout Franklin County, from Hilliard to Sawmill Road, Polaris Fashion Place, Easton Town Center, and Grove City. Some of the crime listed by Columbus Police might surprise you.

Between Nov. 23-28, 2016, the Wednesday through Sunday of the busy Thanksgiving-Black Friday shopping week, there were several shoplifting and theft reports at Easton, 3750 Easton Market. Some as early as 8 o’clock in the morning. But we also found an assault that happened on Townsfair Way outside the Crate & Barrel store.

At the Market at Hilliard on 1786 Hilliard Rome Road, theft reports were plenty, but Crime Tracker 10 also uncovered a drug offense inside the store and a car stolen from LaQuinta Inn near the strip mall.

The Sawmill shopping corridor near Sun Center on 3708 W. Dublin Granville Rd. showed several crime reports, including two reports of assaults. One woman also reported her $300 Kate Spade purse was stolen out of her car outside the Steak N’ Shake after midnight.

Reports from Grove City found five reports of shoplifting in the Parkway Center South area of 1747 Stringtown Road. There was also a drug bust at a restaurant at 2 A.M.

The Polaris shopping area had much more crime reported in that same 6-day period, given the two major shopping hubs on either side of Polaris Parkway. A man lost $3000 worth of tools when he was robbed at knifepoint. There was another robbery last year *inside* the mall.
But there was also a case of public indecency in the parking lot when a man exposed himself to a girl, outside a popular teen brand store.

Police often say criminals usually target crimes of opportunity. They advise people to take extra precautions and don’t make yourself - or your business - a target.

Here is some advice from local Police:

WPD Car Break-In Warning

Post Date:11/15/2017 4:56 PM

Remember: reduce your risk of theft by locking your doors and hiding your valuables, especially when out shopping during the holiday season.

WPD asks the community to report anything that appears unusual in public parking lots or in neighborhoods.

* Call the non-emergency phone line at (614) 882-7444. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies.
* Identify yourself by name, address and phone number.
* Report the type of crime (burglary, assault, suspicious person, or vehicle, etc.).
* State the location. Be prepared to be as specific as possible.
* Be prepared to provide a description of the suspect, a description of the vehicle, including license plate number and the direction of travel, if applicable.
* Stay on the phone with the dispatcher until they tell you that you may hang up. (Unless you are in fear for your safety).

Columbus Police (via NextDoor)

If planning to shop in stores remember one of the main crimes occurring now is theft from autos.

1) Park in areas near security lighting and high volume of traffic passing your car, reduces risk your car will be targeted.
2) If you place purchases in the trunk of car consider moving the car to another area so criminals won't see you hide packages in the trunk and return to the mall.
3) Pay close attention to your surroundings.

If making online purchases for home delivery, remember these tips:

1) Plan deliveries when someone will be home when possible or have a neighbor pick up a package or arrange to pick up at courier office.
2) Consider placing a large lockable tote on the porch and either chain to post or screw down to decking and ask delivery driver to lockbox after delivery. Criminals drive neighborhoods looking for packages on the porch. Please be aware of risks.
3) Be careful with credit cards online. Be sure you track your purchases and match to charges. Shop with businesses you trust.