La Crosse Police Dept. gives helpful tips to keep belongings safe while holiday shopping

Holiday retail sales are expected to hit a new high this year. Americans are expected to spend about $730 billion this holiday season, according to the National Retail Foundation.

No matter if you’re going shopping at the store or having presents delivered, there are a lot of opportunities for thieves to steal your gifts. But there are a few simple ways to protect your belongings.

Bonnie McCann likes to shop year-round, preferably at a brick and mortar store. This holiday season, she’s got a few places in mind.

“Probably the mall, probably Target, probably even Walmart,” said McCann, as she was at the mall with some friends.

While she’s out and about, McCann keeps in mind that anyone could grab her belongings.

“I’m very careful. Believe me, I keep my one eye open,” McCann said.

Sgt. Tom Walsh of the La Crosse Police Department reminds people to make sure they keep track of their cart.

“Don’t leave purses unattended or wallets or anything sitting in a cart. If you think you are going to leave it unattended, take it with you,” said Walsh.

Buying a lot in one trip? Lisa White usually keeps her gifts secure in her purse.

“I usually keep it on me, unless it gets too full and then I stick it in my trunk,” said White, who was enjoying some food at Valley View Mall with her daughter.

Or you can carry a blanket in your car to throw over your items.

“So it’s not visible in your car where someone might get ideas to victimize you,” Walsh said.

Online shopping this year? Track your packages to see when they’re delivered so you can plan to be there.

“I have a lock box where we live, so we don’t really have to worry about that. But sometimes I’ll have packages where you have to sign for them or pick them up so you always make sure that you get them,” White said.

Once you open your gifts, don’t leave any empty boxes out for the weekly trash. Especially if the items are really expensive or electronics.

“If at all possible, break those things down. Maybe try and find someone who will allow you to put it into a dumpster,” Walsh said.

Especially because would-be-thieves will get creative when looking for their next target.

“If we can keep things out of sight, out of mind, it’s probably in our best interest,” Walsh said.

Another helpful hint for holiday shoppers, especially if you make a lot of online purchases, video camera systems like a Ring doorbell or Google Nest can help you see when your packages arrive. If someone were to take them, that footage could be used by authorities to track them down. While they can be a little pricey, you might be able to get a good deal this time of year.

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