The Newport News Police Department has started its annual holiday patrols. Officers like Michelle Rivera are working overtime to patrol shopping areas.
"This is my very first time doing holiday patrols," Rivera said. "Everybody is shopping. Everybody has valuable items with them and people that are up to no good know that."
She's looking for things shoppers might not see. The patrols will run through Christmas.
"Sometimes you can tell when people are up to no good based on their body language," Rivera added. "They are just standing around."
Rivera says as important as it is to protect shoppers, the shoppers have to protect themselves.
"You need to get off the cell phone," Rivera said. "Don't walk with your wallet in hand. Don't park in areas where there is no light."
For Rivera, it's heartbreaking to see anyone become a victim, so she'll patrol the streets in hopes of preventing that feeling.
"People work hard to go out there shopping to get what they want for their loved ones," Rivera added. "It doesn't give anybody the right that is up to no good to take it away from them."
Here are some shopping tips from Newport News Police:
Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
Shop online with companies you know and trust. Check a company’s background if you are not familiar with it. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multiuse disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket. If you do find yourself the victim of a robbery, larceny, etc. do not resist, give the thief the property. Nothing is worth being injured or worse.
Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
If you are shopping with children, make a plan in case you get separated. Select a central meeting place and make sure they know they can ask mall personnel or store security employees if they need help.
Park in well lit areas as close as possible to the entrance of the store or mall area you intend to use.
Don’t drink and drive, have a friend as a designated driver or take a cab. Also, drive defensively as there will be those drivers that have consumed alcoholic beverages.