Thieves targeting distracted shoppers

Consumers urged to pay attention in retail center parking lots

SAN ANTONIO – With the holiday shopping season set to begin, consumers are being urged to pay attention in retail center parking lots to avoid becoming a victim of theft.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, one in 10 property thefts occurs in parking lots or garages, with purse snatchings and pickpocketing among the most common offenses.

"It's a target-rich environment right now for all the malls and all the businesses, and they know that and they're going to be preying on people that are distracted," said KSAT Crime Analyst Eddie Gonzales.

Gonzales said several distractions, including using your cell phone and carrying extra items, can cause consumers to be less alert while shopping. Mothers who use strollers and car seats while shopping are especially vulnerable.

"What happens a lot of times is they'll run up to you, they'll distract you, they'll ask you a question, they'll grab one of your boxes, your packages, they'll grab your purse, and then it becomes a robbery," Gonzales said.

Gonzales advises using the valet when available and putting away cell phones and other electronic devices when walking to your vehicle.

"Any time you come into a parking lot, you immediately need to start sizing it up, and that should be incorporated into your everyday life," Gonzales said.

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