CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – November 16, 2012 – It is one week before a shopping day that keeps getting longer each year, allowing criminals more time to shop from potential victims cars.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department wants to prevent these car break-ins from happening and encourage shoppers to be vigilant when shopping during these holiday seasons.
Shopping safety tips:
- Plan your shopping trip ahead of time. Choose well-lit and well-traveled streets, even if it takes a little longer. Let someone know your route and give a timeframe for your return.
- Keep your car doors locked when driving or parked.
- Remember where you park your car. Better yet, try to park near a light post to allow the light to assist you in finding your car and getting into your car.
- Avoid parking near vans or other vehicles with cargo areas. Look around the parking lot for suspicious persons before exiting your car. Don’t get out of your car until you are ready. If you don’t feel safe, stay in your car or drive away.
- When shopping, always be cautious with your wallet or purse. Keep your wallet in a secured pocket or in your purse, which is zipped or snapped shut. Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Use a single credit card or debit card instead.
- Make several trips to your car to drop off packages. Don’t leave the mall/store with too many packages. It is difficult to watch for other cars and any ice.
- Place all of your valuables such as packages, briefcases, and backpacks in the trunk of your car. DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN PLAIN SIGHT. If you have a van, keep the packages in an enclosed container or under a blanket in the very back of the van.
- If you are leaving the mall/store late and there is a suspicious person outside, request that mall security accompany you to your car.
- Talk to your children before you go shopping as to where to go or who in the store is a safe person, should you get separated.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department has also seen an increase of scams that have been averted because of wise citizens. The scams are not new to our community but we want to remind citizens to not fall prey to the following scams:
-You have won a contest and in order to claim it there is a processing fee. We will send you the check, deposit it and send us the handling fee by Western Union.
-You have won a contest but in order to receive this, you must purchase a gift card, call back to this number and give them the security code.
-American Cash Award Sweepstakes – You have won $XXX,XXX,XXX but you need to send us $XXX via Western Union to process the winnings.
-Your child / grandchild is in a foreign country (Peru / Mexico/Canada have been used) and has been in an accident, was caught in a vehicle with drugs, or have caught over their limit of fish and is in jail – send money via Western Union.
-We sent you a check by mistake and for your trouble we will give you XXX dollars. Deposit the check in your account and Western Union us the rest.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department encourages citizens that receive this kind of call/letter to ASK QUESTIONS and investigate. Even if your child/grandchild says to not tell anyone, TELL someone. Call their parents and ask where they are.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department has been told by more recent citizens that the callers are difficult to understand due to a muffled voice, quiet voice, or heavy accent.
Scams such as those listed above are near impossible for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute. The recipients are typically out of the country and the scam is not detected until it is too late to retrieve the money.
If you find you have been a victim of a scam, contact your local law enforcement if you have sent money. If you have not sent money and know it is a scam, simply shred the letter or hang up on the caller. Unless money is exchanged, there is no need to notify your local law enforcement. http://contests.about.com/od/conttestscams/tp/sweepstakefraud.htm