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Criminals can prey on residents swept up in the holidays

While shopping during the holiday season, police and city of Henderson officials have tips for people to help them avoid scams or theft.

"If it is too good to be true, it probably is," said Keith Paul, a spokesman with the Henderson Police Department.

TIPS FOR TRIPS TO THE MALL

To aid in safety, Paul said police presence was increased as of Black Friday and is expected to continue through Christmas.

"We have more presence in shopping areas and more officers patrolling parking lots," Paul said. "We have undercover people looking for criminals preying on shoppers."

Henderson police also have tips for people to consider while shopping.

"We encourage people to plan ahead and go with another person so you’re not going at this alone," Paul said. "When you shop online, shop with the companies you trust and are familiar with."

Paul said women should carry their purses close to their bodies, and everyone should place their wallets inside a coat pocket.

If bringing a child while shopping, Paul said people should create a safety plan in case they are separated.

"Sometimes shopping can get chaotic," Paul said. "Make sure everybody knows where to go. Make sure kids know to find the mall security if separated from you."

The National Crime Prevention Council also offers holiday shopping safety tips, including:

Consider alternative payment options such as one-time disposable credit cards or money orders to conduct purchases with when shopping online.

When leaving the store, people should keep their keys in hand when approaching their vehicles.

Check the back seat and around your car before getting in.

Wait until a sales clerk asks for a credit card instead of having it out to deter criminals who might peek over your shoulder to obtain information.

Paul encourages people to do shopping in one session as opposed to making trips back and forth to the car.

If people have to drop items in the car, Paul said they should place them in the trunk and consider switching parking spots before returning to the store.

"If someone is watching them, they might think they are leaving," Paul said.

BE CAREFUL WHEN DONATING, PURCHASING

During the holidays, Paul said residents might be approached by people claiming to work for charities seeking donations.

"People might be solicited in person or over the phone," Paul said. "If charities are reputable, they should have clear identification and be able to answer questions like what the money will be used for."

Along with additional police presence, the city of Henderson has increased business license inspections of local shopping areas. Business license officers are watching for unlicensed businesses that might be set up for quick sales, some of which are fraudulent.

"This time of year, we have a lot of folks pulling up in parking lots trying to sell stuff out of their cars like speakers, perfume or electronic equipment," said Kathy Blaha, spokeswoman for the city of Henderson.

Blaha said the city doesn’t issue business licenses for people to sell items out of their cars.

"People should just walk away," Blaha said. "Remember, if you purchase out of someone’s vehicle, you don’t have a place to bring it back to if you have an issue with it."

There are mobile businesses, such as mobile car detailers, that can obtain licenses. Blaha said mobile businesses have to obtain permission to be at certain sites. She added some people might also encounter door-to-door salesmen during the season.

"They might offer to clean your gutters, paint your house or do repair work," Blaha said.

In any case, if people have concerns about who they are buying from or the services being offered, they are allowed to ask the sales people to see a copy of their business license.

"They are supposed to carry a copy with them," Blaha said.

Blaha said people can look up business information on the city’s website.

To report suspicious business activity in Henderson, call 702-267-1730. In North Las Vegas, contact police at 702-633-9111, and in Las Vegas, call the Metropolitan Police Department at 702-385-5555.

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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