BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Local law enforcement said the holiday season can bring an increase in the crimes of opportunity.
The Bakersfield Police Department offers some safety advice while you are shopping and at home during the season.
If you must shop at night, park in a well-lighted area.
Don't shop alone.
Don't carry excessive amounts of cash.
If your shopping trip involves several stores, don't load your car and continue shopping. Move your car to a different location.
Do not leave packages or valuables on the seat of your car. This creates a temptation for thieves. If you must leave something in the car, lock it in the trunk or put it out of sight.
Be aware of your soundings in the store and while you are going to your car.
Keep your purse strapped around your torso and have your keys in your hand while you are exiting the store.
Law enforcement also says you should follow some safety advice to minimize home burglary during the holiday season.
Many thieves case neighborhoods looking for valuables. Keep your gifts out of plain sight.
If your Christmas tree is visible from the street through a window, thieves will be alerted to look for valuables under the tree.
After Christmas, don't keep empty boxes by the curb. Thieves can also be alerted to your valuables by what is displayed by your trash can.
Law enforcement also says delivery service theft is on the rise during the Christmas season.
Thieves follow United Parcel Service and Federal Express delivery trucks and take your packages from your front door after they are dropped off.
UPS offers a free service that alerts you one day before the package arrives.
If you won't be home at the time of the delivery, you can choose to have it delivered on an alternate day or have rerouted to a different location.
For more information to sign up for UPS My Choice
The national retail federation offers consumers the following safety tips
1. Shopping Bags. Never let anyone else "watch" your bags while you are shopping – always keep your bags in eyesight (this goes for spouses or family members who you might be shopping with, no one appreciates your purchases more than you do!).
2. Gift Card Safety Tips. Shoppers should only buy gift cards from reputable retailers (not online auction sites). Gift cards on online auction sites are more likely to be counterfeit or obtained through fraudulent means.
3. Receipts. Consumers should keep their original receipt with the value of the card that they purchased in case there are any problems with the card when it is redeemed.
4. Educate Your Kids. Teach kids what to do if you get separated. (The best option is to instruct your child to look for a security guard, police officer, or go to the customer service desk where people are trained to help.)
5. Communicate. Tell someone where you are going and how long you will be gone. Let them know if you change your schedule.
6. Stay Alert. Even though you are rushed and thinking about a thousand things, pay attention to your surroundings.
7. Lock the Car. Keep doors locked and windows closed when leaving your vehicle. Remember to turn off your lights and take your keys.
8. Use Credit Cards Safely. Beware of identity theft and keep receipts safe. Write down credit card and PIN numbers and leave a copy of it at home.
9. Hide Packages. Store packages in the trunk of the car. Never leave them visible inside the car. That's an invitation for someone to break your windows and steal.
10. Be Vigilant. If you see something suspicious, report it to store personnel, mall security or your local police department.