Officers from the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department were at Brick Plaza this weekend, helping out township police officers with special patrols to protect holiday shoppers.
The extra patrols began Friday and will conclude on Friday, Dec. 26. The extra details will continue on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday preceding Christmas, Sgt. Henry Drew said. The hours of the details will vary between afternoons and evenings.
“These extra details have been very successful in the past allowing officers to have numerous positive contacts with the people that work, shop and visit the township’s plazas as well as provide for a safer environment during the Holiday Season,” Drew said in a statement earlier this month, where the patrols were announced.
Authorities have said identity thieves often target shoppers by stealing credit cards, personal checks and identifications this time of year. Beyond that, more traditional thieves will try to steal purses or wallets left in shopping carts while a victim is distracted.
The police department recommends that shoppers take the following precautions:
- Do not carry unnecessary identification, credit cards, or social security cards with you. Keep these at home in a safe place.
- For cards that you must carry with you, record information such as financial institution name and contact information, card number, etc. and keep it at home in a safe place.
- While shopping, do not place your purse or wallet in your cart. Carry it where you have constant control of it or carry just a wallet on your person and leave your purse at home or in your vehicle out view from others.
- When you are in the parking lot, do not place your purse in an open trunk of your car while loading purchases as thieves sometimes monitor parking lots for this type of opportunity.
- Do not leave any valuable items left in plain view in your vehicle.
- Ensure that you lock your vehicle at all times.
- Stay alert to any suspicious people you see in shopping and parking areas. Many victims report that they saw the suspects lurking around them before a purse or wallet was stolen. Sometimes thieves work in pairs and one will distract the victim by engaging in conversation with them while the other steals the wallet or purse.
- Report any suspicious individuals to employees or to the police department immediately.
- If your purse or wallet is stolen, notify the police immediately; do not wait until you get home. Try to obtain a description of the suspect or suspect vehicle.
- Never confront or pursue a suspect, as this could be dangerous.
- As soon as possible after a theft, notify any applicable credit card companies, banks, etc.