While we turn our attention to Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas season, we also have to bear in mind that not everybody has our best interests in mind this time of year.

With the Christmas shopping season nearly upon us, now is as good a time as any to guard yourself against those who seek to take what isn’t theirs.

Law enforcement officials advise to follow these steps to ensure your shopping and other holiday activities go without incident:

• Avoid driving alone or at night.

• Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while in or out of your car. Set your alarm or use an anti-theft device.

• If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.

• Avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells, or cars with tinted windows.

• Park as close as you can to your destination and take notice of where you parked.

• Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside.

• Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.

• Be sure to locate your keys prior to going to your car.

• Keep a secure hold on your purse, handbag and parcels. Do not put them down or on top of the car in order to open the door.

• When approaching or leaving your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings.

• Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.

If you must use an automated teller machine, choose one inside a mall or in a well-lighted location and withdraw only the amount you need. Protect your PIN by shielding the ATM keypad from anyone standing near you and do not throw away your receipt at the ATM location.

When shopping, go during daylight hours and if you must do your shopping in the evening, go with a friend or family member. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and do not carry a purse or wallet, if possible. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep your cash in your front pocket. Use a credit card when possible to pay for purchases and if you lose a credit card, notify the credit card issuer immediately. Don’t overload yourself with packages, either, and stay aware of your surroundings. Also, beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.

In the season of giving, you may want to contribute to groups, organizations or causes. Be wary of people going door-to-door seeking donations and ask to see their ID and find out how any donated funds will be used. You also may donate to a recognized charitable organization.

We hope the holidays are safe and enjoyable and hopefully, these suggestions can help make that happen.

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