Law enforcement offer holiday shopping and safety tips

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HANCOCK COUNTY — Getting Christmas presents delivered through the mail or via special delivery is nothing new. Holiday shopping also offers opportunities for crimes against those shopping online or in person. Unfortunately, criminals are more clever than ever when it comes to playing Grinch, stealing packages and a person’s identity.

Local law enforcement say there are ways residents can fight back against would-be thieves, and it includes mostly being smart this time of the season.

Officials from the Greenfield Police Department have shared five tips — ways to protect mail and packages. The advice includes not leaving any packages unattended for any length of time. Some thieves will drive by neighborhoods multiple times and check to see if packages are on door steps for any length of time.

For people who know they will not be home when expecting a package, it’s better to use a “hold for pickup” option, which is offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS). For people leaving town, it’s better to use the request to “hold mail services” to avoid any kind of package or mailbox pile up.

Some might not know, but customize delivery is available at the post office and that can help a person track a package. The USPS also offers special services like signature confirmation or registered mail. Requesting a signature confirmation ensures someone must be present to sign for the package, making it less likely to be stolen.

Also, installing a security camera is a deterrent. A visible security camera can deter potential thieves from targeting your home. Plus, people need to keep an eye out for their neighbors. If you’re going to be out of town, ask a neighbor to keep an eye out for your deliveries and bring them inside if they are able.

The Indiana State Police also offered some safety tips for people shopping online and in stores this holiday season.

For shoppers who like to venture out, police say stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you. Park in a well-lit area and be sure to lock your car.

Police also say it’s good to use extra caution when walking to and from your car and, if possible, shop with a friend. Be sure to avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Officials say it is actually better to pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.

Another big tip: do not leave purses unattended in shopping carts or in your vehicle. Place gifts and other valuables in the trunk of your car out of sight.

Police also say it’s best to make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition and for people to always carry a fully charged cell phone whenever they leave home.

When shopping with kids, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if they get separated. If out and about and you notice suspicious activity, don’t hesitate to contact store security or the nearest police agency. Remember, the most important tip is to know who and what is around you.

For online shoppers, officials say use credit cards or PayPal to purchase online gifts. Before entering any personal or credit card information onto a shopping site, look to see if the web address on the page begins with “https:” not “http:” That little ’s’ tells the website is secure and encrypted to protect your information.

Another tip, don’t click on pop-up links, make sure your Malware software is current and above all avoid using public WiFi.