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Police urge holiday shoppers to stay alert

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Police in Smithfield and Selma are urging Johnston County shoppers to remain alert as they purchase their favorite holiday items.

“It’s the season of holiday joy with friends and family,” said Smithfield police Capt. Ryan Sheppard. “But it’s also the season of the holiday Grinch. Nothing can ruin your holiday joy faster than becoming the victim of a crime.”

“Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you,” added Selma police Capt. Jamie Hughes. “Park in a well-lighted space, and be sure to lock the car, close the windows and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk.”

“The store’s parking lot is an area where shoppers should be alert,” said Sheppard.

“Always park in a well-lit and well-traveled area. Do not park in a remote, dark area. When you return to your vehicle, check to see if you are being followed,” said Sheppard. “Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. You will be ready to unlock the door and will not be delayed by fumbling and looking for your keys.”

Hughes said it’s important to avoid carrying large amounts of cash and pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.

“Deter purse-snatchers and don’t overburden yourself with packages,” said Hughes. “Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.”

Shoppers who visit automated teller machines should be on guard for robbers and identity thieves.

“If you go to an ATM for cash, check for people around and make sure it is well-lit and in a safe location,” said Sheppard.

“If you’re shopping with your children, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if they get separated,” said Hughes.

Sheppard offers security measures one should take if shopping with a credit or debit card.

“If you make a purchase with your credit card or debit cards, check your purchasing history by comparing it to your receipts,” said Sheppard. “When making purchases with a debit or credit card, try to keep the card in your view to avoid the card data from being stolen.”