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Latino State News

CPD Emphasize Awareness, Precaution to Deter Pickpockets, Scam Artists During Holidays

The Holiday Season is traditionally a time for giving, but police warn that grinches are out to take more than just your holiday spirit.

The Chicago Police Department held a press conference Friday providing safety tips to avoid pickpockets and other scam artists during the bustling holiday shopping season.
Police cautioned that people are particularly vulnerable during the holidays when crowds flood stores, sidewalks and subways. Busy shoppers and commuters navigating through crowds are preoccupied with multiple obligations. A thief or con artist can blend into a crowd searching for an unsuspecting target.

To help ensure a merry season for shoppers, police will step up patrols in both the State Street and Michigan Avenue shopping districts to assist with traffic control and aid citizens with directions and other questions. Tactical teams that specialize in detecting pickpocket scams also will be deployed to these areas and to CTA buses and trains throughout the holidays.

Authorities also encouraged senior citizens and residents to be aware of scam artists in their neighborhood and to immediately report any suspicious activity to police. Con artists often pose as utility workers or city employees to gain entry into a home. Police stressed that residents should not open their doors to strangers, always ask for identification, and report any suspicious activity to police by calling
9-1-1.

Chicago Police emphasized that being aware of surroundings and practicing simple safety tips can help people from becoming victims of crime:

• Thieves are attracted to smart phones and computers, especially when people are distracted while using these items. Talking on a phone, focusing your eyes solely on a laptop screen, or listening to headphones without paying attention to your surroundings are distractions that provide an opportunity for you to become a target.

• Keep your purse close to your body, preferably in front of you or under a jacket or coat.

• Be aware of where your purse is when you get to restaurants or hotel lounges. Thieves prey on purses hung over the back of a chair or left on the floor.

• If you carry a wallet, keep it in your front pants pocket or coat breast pocket.
• Always be alert and walk confidently. Be mindful of those who pass you on a crowded bus or train or bump into you on a sidewalk. These individuals may be pickpockets.

• Do not leave packages or other valuables on the car seat where they can be seen. Lock them in the trunk.

• Do not carry valuables in backpacks, which can easily be accessed in a crowded elevator, on an escalator or in a checkout line.

• Keep an eye on credit cards and the paper trail they generate to avoid becoming the victim of identity theft. To reduce the risk, people should destroy extra copies of credit card receipts. It’s also best not to carry personal information in a wallet or purse. This includes social security number, an old credit card, ATM receipts or seldom used credit cards.

• Keep pertinent information, including credit card account numbers, banking information and social security numbers, in a secured but accessible place at home. That way, in the event that a credit card is lost or stolen, the information will be handy for reporting to authorities.

• Use caution when making online purchases, especially when the vendor is an individual rather than a known retailer.

Thieves sometimes use a ruse to prey upon an unsuspecting victim. Such scams often include dropping loose change, fainting in front of a person or bumping into someone. Once the shopper’s attention is diverted, another offender may take the person’s wallet or purse.

Chicago Police also warned about identity theft and urged strategies to prevent shoppers from becoming potential targets. Shoppers should keep close tabs on any receipts or account information generated through credit card purchases, and destroy any extra copies. It is also a safe practice to avoid carrying unnecessary personal information, such as a social security card or number, old credit cards or ATM receipts in your wallet, and instead keep this information securely stored at home.