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Night shopping calls for caution


The day after Thanksgiving is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. With many gifts, foods, and ingredients to buy, shopping in the evening is almost inevitable.

Here are some precautions to take on shopping trips:

* Keep your car in good condition. If you have a breakdown, call for help on your cell phone or ask someone to make a call for you.

* If you park in a mall parking lot after dark, take another person with you. Park in a well-lighted area. If you are alone and feel uncomfortable about individuals standing near your vehicle, ask a member of mall security to escort you to your car.

* If you need gas, a pay phone, or a bank machine at night, go to a well-lighted area where other motorists can see you.

* Dress for comfort and security. Don't wear valuable jewelry, wear shoes that are comfortable and easy to walk in.

* The American Automobile Association recommends keeping car doors and windows locked at all times. Look into the car before getting inside even if it is locked.

* Have your keys ready when you approach your car so you don't spend extra time outside of it.

* Scan stairwells and elevators before you enter. Don't enter if you see a suspicious-looking person inside.

* Beware of helpful strangers.

* Don't wait alone for public transportation. Arrive just before your scheduled departure on a bus or train. Women should select a seat near the driver rather than in back of the bus.

These are common-sense safety procedures, not paranoid thinking. Being prepared for the unexpected is better than having to deal with an unpleasant or dangerous incident.

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