Holiday Shopping Safety Tips from San Mateo Police

Black Friday may be over, but the holiday shopping season as just begun. San Mateo police are offering safety tips to keep residents safe while shopping.

The San Mateo Police Department is offering the following safety tips to keep in mind while shopping for the holidays.


  • Beware of Burglars who target homes while shoppers are out – secure all doors and windows!
  • Carry a cell phone, if you have one, and make sure you have SMPD’s Dispatch number – 650-522-7700 – programmed on your speed-dial.
  • Carry only small amounts of cash
  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible—or go with a friend if you shop at night (or the pre-dawn sales).
  • Carry keys, credit cards and cash separate from each other.
  • Be extremely careful and watchful when using ATM machines.
  • Wear conservative, comfortable clothing, and minimal jewelry.
  • While driving, keep your doors locked and windows rolled up – including in the parking lot.
  • Maintain at least half a tank of fuel


  • If you have to carry a purse, carry it close to your body and keep it zipped.
  • Park close to where you are going and park in a well-lit area.
  • Heighten your awareness – be aware of your surroundings and who is nearby.
  • Grip carried items firmly and do not leave them unattended.
  • Do not overload yourself with packages to maintain visibility and freedom of motion, and to avoid mishaps
  • Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
  • When hurried or in a crowded shop, take the time to make sure you get all forms of ID and credit cards returned to you before leaving.
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost or stolen.
  • Keep a record of all credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Keep a close eye on children while shopping.


  • Leave the mall before closing time; it is safer to walk out of the mall with other people.
  • Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distraction with the intent of taking your money or belongings.
  • Use an escort or mall security if you have a lot of packages or if you are leaving the mall after closing.
  • When returning to your vehicle, carry your keys in your hand and be ready to unlock the door and enter as quickly as possible.
  • Check under your car as you approach it; this is a common spot for criminals to hide.
  • Check the interior of your car before entering.


  • After opening gifts, break down cardboard boxes of expensive electronics and put them somewhere out of public view prior to disposal, to hide the fact you have new high-value items in your home.


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Jeni November 30, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Very useful tips, ESPECIALLY the one for when you bring your expensive purchases home: "After opening gifts, break down cardboard boxes of expensive electronics and put them somewhere out of public view prior to disposal, to hide the fact you have new high-value items in your home."
TGD December 04, 2012 at 12:17 PM
How can you verify the person employeed as the mall santa isn't a sexual predator? Is santa beyond reproach? I personally would rather have someone steal my car with every gift in it along with my wallet and grandma's purse than to have my child gropped inconspicuously right under everyones nose. What are the police guidlines for this?
TGD December 06, 2012 at 08:06 PM
It appears this is one of those senarios that is swept under the radar and will be treated as a non-issue until it is actually detected.
Jeni December 11, 2012 at 10:59 PM
You can't verify that Santa isn't a pedophile, but let's be honest, when you're standing 10 feet away from your child and watching her every move with Santa and Santa is being watched by dozens (as well as being photographed), it's highly unlikely that he/she will behave inappropriately. Plus, all children who see Santa are fully dressed (most wearing thick pants during winter), so how much gross touching can one closely-watched Santa do??
TGD December 12, 2012 at 12:35 AM
"so how much gross touching can one closely-watched Santa do??" How much do you believe is enough??


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