I guess the best way to keep yourself protected while out buying Christmas goodies would be to have a cop tag along with you the entire time. Since cops have other, more pressing responsibilities, that might be tough. However, following some of the guidelines put forth by law enforcement should do the trick.

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is offering its annual tips and reminders to help shoppers remain safe and keep their purchases secure during the holidays. While some, if not most of their suggestions could be looked at as just being good common sense, sometimes common sense goes out the window during the busiest shopping season.

“The holidays are a time for giving, but that doesn't mean you should give criminals a gift by letting them take advantage of you,” said Illinois FOP President Chris Southwood. “By following a few common-sense tips, shoppers can stay safe and make sure their purchases reach the intended recipients.”

Here are some of the FOP's tips:

Shopping in Stores
  • Do not buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
  • Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
  • Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as onetime or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, at online stores and auction sites.
  • Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
  • Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
Walking to and From Your Car
  • Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
  • Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.

Here are a few more: