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Shopping for gifts at the holidays can be a pleasant experience, but it can also be a busy and hectic time for many. Stay safe and protect yourself and your kids in crowded shopping centers and malls by following these holiday shopping safety tips:

Designate a meetup spot

When shopping with the family, choose a specific spot to meet up at a designated time. This is a smart way to make sure that everyone is okay while out in a crowded public place for long periods of time. For younger children, tell them to return to a specific spot if they become lost or separated from the group. Give kids and teens a GPS tracker so that you can find out their location at any time while you shop.

Park in well-lit areas

One of the biggest risks in parking lots during the holiday season is pickpockets and thieves. Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area, and take note of where you park before entering the mall or store. Keep your keys in your hand as you approach your vehicle, and be aware of your surroundings. If it’s late and you’re nervous about heading out to the parking lot on your own, ask a security guard to accompany you to your vehicle.

Keep your wallet or handbag close

It’s easy to get distracted while shopping, but it’s important to keep your wallet or handbag close by. Don’t set either one down on a shelf, in a shopping cart, or on a counter. Make sure that the handbag is closed so that your wallet can’t be easily accessed by a pickpocket. Once you get to the car and put packages and shopping bags in, take a moment to check for your wallet or handbag and make sure that you have it with you before leaving the store.

Avoid carrying a lot of cash

Don’t bring a large amount of cash with you on a shopping trip. Not only do you run the risk of dropping and losing large bills, but you also may become a target for thieves. Pay with the smallest bills possible, and stay alert for any suspicious individuals that they may seem to be paying too much attention to you.