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Shopping is Great … Just Don’t be the Bait …

By Michelle Annese

It’s dark out. It’s late. You’ve closed down the mall with your bags and packages in hand. you did so good finding the terrific deals and gifts for your loved ones. and with the kids not around, you were able to accomplish a so much. as your running the mental gift list in your head, you’re not aware that you didn’t park under any lights … or who parked next to you. fumbling with the shopping bags, half-way through the lot, you start searching for your keys, and then hear your cell phone go off… and then … without warning someone approaches you …

Are you at risk? what makes a woman a perfect target? here are 7 top tactics and weaknesses criminals who were interviewed say they look for to take advantage of you. they aren’t just for the busy holiday season either. it’s all year round. don’t fall for them anytime and you can protect yourself from becoming one of the new year’s next statistics.

1.coming up to my vehicle, did i look around - aware of who is near it? am i walking my packages in a cart or carrying them in my hand? criminals interviewed say they want to attack the woman who is walking alone and not aware of her surroundings. always put shopping bags in a cart. this allows you ample time to react if someone is approaching you. if you’re carrying bags, this renders your hands useless to protect yourself and gives a criminal a bonus. remember… the buddy system. late night shopping always needs to be a ‘girl’s night out’ affair.

2. are my keys already in my hand before leaving the store? again, awareness plays a huge part. also, with a key in hand, it can be a terrific weapon if you’re suddenly grabbed.

3. am i talking on the cell phone …fixing my hair… counting my change… writing in the checkbook…and not paying attention? paying attention is the key. take care of all that ‘stuff’ in the store. not in the parking lot, or outside of the vehicle.

4. is there anyone loitering around my vehicle… if so… are they suspicious enough to making me go back into the store? don’t think your being silly. no such thing. especially when your safety is on the line. if you’re not comfortable with walking to your car, ask security to accompany you or if there isn’t security available, a store manager will do it – it is their job. that’s what they are getting paid to do.

5. is my vehicle in a well-lit area? is it easily visible to passer-bys? if i can’t see my car really well, who can? criminals say they do not want to be noticed, recognized, or slowed down in any way. if you’re not easily seen by others at a mall or store, that makes you a perfect target for a criminal.

6. if i have automatic keyless entry, did i hit the unlock button twice … making it easy for someone to get into my passenger side door? get into the habit of opening just your driver’s side door. new technology is wonderful when you’re with others, loading packages, during the day. but, at night when your field of vision is limited, don’t take any chances. criminals are hoping that you’ll make their job easier for them.

7. if i am approached by someone – no matter how much help i need, it’s ok to turn them down. remember, criminals will do and say anything they can to gain your trust. don”t fall for it!!! if a stranger wants to help you with your bags, tell them no, thank you. if they still insist, tell them no again. criminal interviews revealed that they will try to play on a victim heartstrings to get access to the vehicle, a purse, or for the vehicle keys - and move-in for the attack when trust is gained and it’s at least expected.

if you are unable to load packages into your vehicle, ask help from the store – they would be glad to help. it’s their job.

want more? to keep up to date with criminal tactics and learn some of the best self-defense tips available, go to www.michelleannese.com for more ways to protect yourself and what we need to teach our mothers and daughters about safety.

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