Holiday shopping safety tips

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - A late-night shopping trip came to a terrifying end last week for a Gautier couple.  Police said the couple, who isn't being identified, was followed home from the D'Iberville Walmart and robbed at gunpoint at their home.

When Lisa Gaddis goes shopping, she has a short but scary list of concerns.

"Being robbed," Gaddis said.  "Or having my identity stolen, my wallet stolen or leaving my card, my debit card lying down and someone walking off with it."

She said she takes precautions when out in public places.

"I always have my keys ready and I scope out all around my truck before I get out or get in," Gaddis said.

Police said the holiday season brings a greater chance bad things could happen to innocent people.

"Certainly around the holiday season people need to be on their guard because people are out looking to victimize others," said Detective Matthew Hoggatt with the Gautier Police Department.  "There are a lot of people in stores, there's a lot of money being circulated."

Detective Hoggatt shared several simple ways to reduce the odds you'll become a victim.

"Always have your keys out, ready to open your car," Hoggatt said. "Always travel in numbers.  If you can avoid going by yourself."

Hogget said when you're out shopping, park in a crowded area and be sure to check for lights overhead.  He said most criminals are deterred by the possibility of being caught in the act.

He also said avoid carrying too many shopping bags and opt for a shopping cart if possible.

"Even if it's something that fit in two hands," Hoggatt said.  "Put it in your buggy an free up one of those hands in case you need it."

Hoggatt said the Gautier Police Department, as well as other agencies, are out in full force to make sure this holiday season, you stay as safe as possible.

"We got patrols out here around our areas, especially around our businesses," Hoggatt said.  "And we've got traffic division out here working overtime to try to maintain extra patrols out here."

Hoggatt said basic self-defense and assault defense classes are available to the public.  He encouraged anyone interested to contact their local police department for ideas on how to get started.

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