CCSO shares Black Friday safety tips

Published 10:00 am Thursday, November 25, 2021

While many people look forward to shopping on Black Friday, some see it as an opportunity to commit crimes. Chief Deputy Richard Carter of the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office shared tips on how to enjoy Black Friday safely.

“First of all, Black Friday can be a lot of fun,” Carter said. “I don’t get into it, myself, but I know a lot of people who do, and they really have a good time getting out there, getting up early, staying up late, getting in the crowd scene. We’re glad that people do that. But while they are, we want them to make sure, most of all, that they pay attention to what’s around them, who’s around them.”

Carter said the CCSO strongly advises against drinking and driving.

“Most of the time, these events are at night, so we tell them to park under a well-lit area,” he said. “With the large crowds of people going out to have fun, you get the criminal element that wants to take advantage of that, as well. Parking under a well-lit area will sometimes prevent them from trying to make you a victim.”

Carter advised against going Black Friday shopping alone, as this would make a person more vulnerable to criminals. If a person can only shop alone, Carter recommended doing it online.

“When you go, make sure your phone is charged,” he said. “That way, two things — if something happens, you don’t have to worry about trying to call somebody when you need help when you don’t have any battery left. And then, second thing — If your phone is taken, whether it be from your purse or your car, and that battery is full, it helps us track it.”

Many people withdraw cash on Black Friday, which Carter advised against because criminals may target people who visit ATMs on that day. Instead, he recommended withdrawing cash a day or two in advance.

As for women who usually carry purses, Carter recommended carrying something smaller and closer to their bodies. If they can go with just debit cards and IDs in their pockets, that’s even better. If they opt for the latter, Carter recommends putting these cards in their front pockets to avoid getting pickpocketed.

“With this many people that are going to be out, try and go to the stores where you know have security present,” he said. “Don’t go to places where you know there is no security if there’s a lot of people. Just avoid those places.”

Anyone with a friend or family member staying at home should let that person know where they’re going and keep in touch with them throughout the day, Carter said.

“Most of the time, 99.9 percent of the people that’s out there are good folks just enjoying the shopping season, having a good time,” he said. “It’s that .1 percent that we have to be wary of. If you see something, report it.”

While something suspicious may not turn out to be anything important, Carter said the sheriff’s office prefers to err on the side of caution. He said to dial 911 during an emergency or otherwise call the non-emergency number, which is (334) 864-4333.

Carter said that in Chambers County, the crime most often committed in relation to Black Friday is theft. He said that criminals sometimes look at packages people have thrown out to see what they’ve bought. For this reason, he recommends making packages unrecognizable before throwing them away, perhaps by putting them in trash bags.