The Lafayette Police Department wants to remind citizens that they need to think smart this holiday season and always know their surroundings when they are out shopping, whether it is Black Friday or after.

Lafayette Corporal Paul Mouton tells KPEL, "We'll all be going out shopping, and we ask that you not carry large amounts of cash.  Also be aware of your surroundings, when you are walking to and from the retail outlet."  He offers several tips on how you can keep safe this holiday season:

  • Stay alert to your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Shop with a friend, there is safety in numbers.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
  • Pay for purchases with a check, credit or debit card.
  • If possible, carry only your driver’s license, personal checks, or necessary credit or debit cards.
  • If you must carry a purse, do not wrap the straps around your arms or shoulders. Carry it by clutching the purse tightly under your arm or wear a fanny pack.
  • Do not carry a wallet in a back pocket. It should be placed in a front pocket of your pants for safety.
  • Be alert that crooks look for the “high dollar” shopping bags with your purchases. When possible, slip bags/purchases in a plain nondescript bag.
  • Watch purchases while eating in mall food courts; bags can easily be switched or taken.
  • Educate your children about what to do if they are lost as well as “Stranger Danger”.
  • Don’t overburden yourself with too many packages. Use store’s package pick-up.
  • Have your car keys ready in hand before leaving the store.
  • If you do return to your vehicle to unload purchases, place them in the trunk of the vehicle.
  • Try not to shop until the store closes. Remember, fewer people are present at this time.

Corporal Mouton says there are also things you can do to help prevent crime from happening to you in a parking lot.

He tells KPEL,

"Not everyone is going to be able to park closest to the retail outlet. Check the vehicles that you are parking next to, if they have tinted windows it is probably not a good idea to park next to it because you can't tell if there is someone actually in the vehicle. Also, look for other people exiting their vehicle so that ya'll can all walk to and from the outlet together so there is safety in numbers, and of course, try to shop with someone a friend, a relative so that you do have someone with you when you are shopping."

Here are some more holiday crime prevention tips for parking lots:

  • Shop early and leave early to avoid evening darkness.
  • Park in a high visibility area and check for lighting in case you leave during hours of darkness.
  • Do not park next to a vehicle with dark tinted windows.
  • Prior to arriving at the shopping center, lock all your valuables in the trunk of your vehicle.
  • Leave the store with others, not alone.
  • Ask security to escort you to your vehicle if you feel uncomfortable.
  • Walk briskly, confidently, and directly through the parking lot. Be cautious of people handing out fliers or asking questions in the parking area.
  • Watch for people who may be following you. This can occur inside as well as outside. If you suspect someone following you, report it to security immediately.

Corporal Mouton also has multiple tips that people should remember at home so that you are not "advertising" to crooks about the great things you have in your home.  Mouton suggests the following:

  • Keep the outside of your home well lit with doors locked and window curtains closed.
  • Don’t display gifts beneath the Christmas tree that can be seen from windows or doors.
  • After the holidays, don’t advertise gifts received by the boxes left for the garbage collection. Destroy boxes and place in a sealed, non-clear garbage bag.

The Lafayette Police Department will have additional patrols working the retail areas and enforcing Handicap Parking violations.