There's a lot to do before Christmas, and not a lot of time to do it.
That can make you rushed and distracted if you're doing last-minute shopping and errands. Which could make you vulnerable to theft.
Don't let criminals be the grinch who steals your Christmas, said Westlake Police public information officer Capt. Guy Turner. He offers some tips to help you protect yourself.
- Be aware. "Walk with a purpose; head up, stride like you mean business," Turner said. Don't look down to text, or put your earbuds in for music. Stay alert to your surroundings.
- Don't carry so many bags and packages that you are off-balance or have a hard time moving. If you have a lot of items, see about doing curbside pick-up.
- Always park in a well-lit area, better if it's right under a light. Make note of where your car is, even saving the information on your phone with either a note or a photo.
- When you're ready to leave, either get an escort from security or follow a group of shoppers. Have your keys ready before you go out to your car. Don't be distracted by having to fumble for them in your pocket or purse.
- When shopping, men should keep their wallets in a front pocket or an inside jacket pocket, preferably one that zippers. Women should keep their purses close-up to their bodies and never in a shopping cart.
- Don't carry cash. Use credit cards as much as possible. If you have to carry cash, only make visible what you need to make your purchase.
- Hide your purchases in your car. If you have a trunk, put them in there. Cover bags with a blanket if you have an SUV or minivan.
- Shopping online? Check out the website before buying. Turner recommended researching shopping sites on the Better Business Bureau's website.
- Above all, Turner said, trust yourself and your instincts. "If something feels wrong, it probably is," he said.