Police remind people to shop smart this holiday season - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Police remind people to shop smart this holiday season

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Many stores are opening their doors on Thursday evening for Black Friday and law enforcement is taking the time to remind folks to shop smart.

Ashley Bailey has already started shopping for Christmas. Her shopping list includes, iPods, DVDs and tablets, but she knows the presents could become gifts for thieves if she is not careful about where she stores them inside her car."I put them right in the trunk. I get in the car, lock the car, and I'll go home," she said. She is also cautious when she is shopping. Bailey makes sure her purse and wallet are secure and close to her body at all times.

Major Julius Graham, with the Bureau of Patrol Services of the Columbus Police Department, said safety takes a backseat during the holiday shopping season because people are focused on gifts and deals. He suggests people have safety plans in place when they hit the stores. "During the shopping season because thefts are those type crimes that are, if you will, crimes of opportunity." Major Graham recommends never buy more than you can carry, always have keys in-hand when going to the car and do most of your shopping during the day.

Thieves may also try to steal your credit card information so wait to pull out your card until asked.

In preparation for Black Friday Major Graham said police patrols will be increased around shopping centers.

Many businesses are also gearing up for the big shopping day. On Monday barricades were already erected at Best Buy, ready for when the customers show up.

"I think we'll be... 5, 6 thousand people total throughout that 30 hour period, but that's just a guess," said Thomas Jacobs, a Best Buy employee. He said the store is ready for the big crowd. There will be store maps, item tickets and lots of employees on-hand. "A lot of stuff that we're going to do in preparation is talking to the crowd out there in line before we ever even open, giving them some basic instruction, reminding them that it's a holiday time, that gentleness and kindness are also good things to do too."

Many stores are also hiring off-duty officers for security. Best Buy has not yet decided if they will hire any this year.

To track Black Friday sales online or in-store visit the Official Black Friday Deals website.

Sydney Cameron

Sydney joined the WRBL news team in December 2011 after working as a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. More>>

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