Shopping for the holidays? Police say stay aware of your surroundings

Posted at 6:40 AM, Nov 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-21 11:51:03-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Picture this scenario: It's the holiday, it's dark and you're leaving the store with hands full of shopping bags as you head to your car.

It's easy to get distracted and this is when police say people become vulnerable to someone looking to do harm.

“The big thing is situational awareness and the definition of that is knowing what’s going on around you," said Master Police Officer Roger Whitley with the Norfolk Police Department's Community Affairs division. “Gotta get the face out of the cell phone, gotta know what’s going on. The earbuds too.”

For one Norfolk woman, she learned about the importance of awareness the hard way last year. Candi Morrison says it happened when she was shopping at JANAF Shopping Center.

“Some man ended up chasing me home. He actually was following me in the store, but I couldn’t find any security inside to follow me out so I tried to break and hope I would miss him, but he found me and chased me home," said Morrison. "Now, when I come through, I make sure I look around the area.”

Police say even before you leave the store, you should watch to see if anyone is watching you and keep an eye out as you head to your car.

Keep your wallet and phone in your front pocket.

When you arrive at your car, take one last look to see if anyone is watching. If you feel uneasy, police say to head back to the store and look for security or anyone who can help.

"Say, 'Hey listen, there’s someone parked in the car next to me. Not sure, they may be watching me. Would you mind walking me to my vehicle to make sure I get to my vehicle safely?'," said Officer Eddie Rodriguez, who works in the Community Affairs division with MPO Whitley.

Police also suggest to avoid parking in the back of a lot or the top of a parking deck.

A criminal might see an isolated area as an opportunity to avoid anyone witnessing the committing of a crime.