KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — This week, businesses will be packed for all the last minute holiday shoppers who plan to brave the crowds. Knoxville Police says more people in one spot could mean a greater opportunity for criminals to steal.
Scott Erland, a spokesperson for Knoxville Police, said the first thing any shopper should do is grab their valuables (keys, phone, wallet, purse, etc.) out of the car and lock their vehicle. He warns criminals tend to look for unlocked doors in crowded parking lots.
“The other part is making sure that you’re not leaving any of these packages, or the expensive things you bought, just out in plain view. So one little tactic you can use is to make sure you’re putting them in your trunk or another locked compartment out of plain view in the car,” Erland said.
When going inside, Erland said shoppers need to be vigilant in crowded stores. If something doesn’t feel right, make note of the situation. If you see something that doesn’t look right and warrants a call to the police, then call the police.
He also said to keep personal items close and not to leave a purse in the shopping cart or set it on the ground. If you’re shopping with kids, Erland suggests making a game plan with them.
“Have a plan in case you get separated from your kids. Make sure they know their first and last names and know how 911 works and know who to go talk to if they do get separated in those big crowds,” Erland said.
Mark Booker, Logistics Manager at Academy Sports and Outdoors, said they have to help find a child every once in a while. Besides helping keep kids safe and found, Booker said they are prepared to keep customers safe during the holiday rush.
“We have employees going around the store, and their jobs is solely just to make sure that debris, water or anything like that isn’t on the floor. So, what we do is you know, just make sure the customers are staying safe,” Booker said.
He also said they have plenty of employees staffing the checkout lanes, so although you might have to wait in a long line, it’ll go faster than you’d think. Booker added they have had some long lines these past few days, and he doesn’t expect them to lighten up until after Christmas.
“Right now, the line takes literally takes 10 to 15 minutes to get from the back of the store to the front. And that’s on them because they take pride in what they’re doing up there to get that customer through that line,” Booker said.
Booker said despite seeing more in-person shoppers this holiday season, the customers have been pretty calm. But, he said their customer service is the main reason for that.
“You take care of the customer and everything else smooths out,” Booker said.
If you plan to shop in multiple stores, Erland advises moving your car after placing purchases into it. He understands parking can be a pain, but moving the car is a great way to keep the thieves guessing.
“Just drop that in your car, in a locked compartment of your vehicle where it’s out of plain view, and then you can just move and change your parking spots so, if there was somebody watching and they might want to take advantage and steal that stuff, then they don’t know where your car is anymore,” Erland said.
If you’re skipping the long lines in the store, but still plan still shop online at the last minute, Erland said to be aware of porch pirates.
Try to be home when an item is being delivered, ask your neighbors to keep an eye out for packages or leave a special delivery note for the shipping company to store your package in a hidden spot.