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Forsyth authorities share travel, shopping safety tips
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Forsyth County News

CUMMING — For those of us who are able to move from the couch after Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has offered some safety tips to make sure our holiday does not become a tragedy.

The sheriff’s office plans to beef up patrols Wednesday night through Sunday in shopping centers with a special Black Friday procedure, but shoppers and sale seekers should still be cautious about their surroundings.

Hide packages in your car as you go from store to store, said agency spokesman Doug Rainwater, and keep them out of plain view.

“If you’re putting all your packages in the trunk, use discretion and don’t be real obvious about where you’re keeping everything,” he cautioned.

Look around the parking lot before leaving a store, he said. Make sure no one is standing near your vehicle or that no one is sitting in a parked car next to yours.

Most stores will offer an employee to assist you if you feel uneasy about walking out alone, he said. But use common sense no matter what.

Check to see that no one follows you to your car, and don’t use the key fob from far away to find it.

He also cautioned not to leave purses or valuables in the shopping cart as you walk around a store.

If you’re traveling instead of standing in line, secure your home before leaving, Rainwater said.

There are ways to make it look like someone is home while you’re visiting the in-laws. Putting lights on timers “is probably the single biggest advantage you can have,” Rainwater said.

Cheap timer lights can be purchased to be set at different times throughout the day and night.

Have a neighbor or trusted teenager roll the trash can back up to your house after it’s picked up, Rainwater said. They can also pick up papers and flyers from the driveway.

Take one vehicle and keep another in the driveway to “make it appear that someone is home and someone is inside the house currently.”

“You want to make the bad guy think twice about your house,” Rainwater said.

And whether you’re driving to a friend’s house within Forsyth County or across the state, “just be careful not to drink and drive.”

If you do drink, he said, choose a designated driver or get a ride home.

“Most importantly, just have patience,” Rainwater said, “because there’s going to be a lot of people out.”