HOUSTON — The busiest shopping season of the year has arrived! Holiday deals are attracting shoppers to Houston's most popular shopping areas, but beware, thieves and other criminals are also afoot.
"There's nothing wrong with always being prepared," safety expert and Houston Police Det. Tracy Hicks said. "Always be aware that somebody could be in that parking lot watching you."
That's especially important during the holidays.
"Ladies, you don't need to take your expensive purse with you," Hicks said.
He also advises shoppers to not take a full wallet – just your ID and the credit cards you absolutely need.
"Here's a mistake a lot of people make," Hick said. "They think that when they come out, they can put it in their trunk and cover it up [but] it's already too late. The crooks are in the parking lot, and they know where you're hiding it."
He said there is a high chance they will follow you to your next stop and break into your vehicle. That's why the auto theft expert suggests planning your purchases.
"Buy your inexpensive items first," he said. "You know, the stocking stuffers. The small ticket items and then save that last, one big item you're going to buy that day for last. Because that way you can go directly home."
Hicks said walk out of the store with your head on a swivel. Try to avoid distractions like cellphones or headphones. And pay attention to the cars on the road with you.
"If you know for a fact you are being followed, I want you to call 911 immediately, from the freeway," he said.
Bottomline: Be purposeful with your holiday shopping.
"These crooks are out shopping, too. This is their busy time," Hicks said.