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Tips to stay safe while holiday shopping

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Police say there are precautions you should take to protect your items from thieves as you're out shopping for gifts this holiday season.

The first tip -- be aware of your surroundings.

"Not talking or texting on your phone while you're walking to or from your car, maybe walking with somebody or shop with a group,” said Captain Brian Zalewski of the Wauwautosa Police Department. “Really what you do by increasing that situational awareness, is you're presenting yourself as less as a target for a potential criminal."

Authorities say Black Friday creates the perfect opportunity for thieves.

"When you have a large number or people in fairly confined spaces in these retail areas, it does create a large number of opportunities potentially for these bad guys who are out there looking to victimize people," Zalewski said.

Also, make sure your shopping bags aren't visible in the car, so no one is tempted to steal them.

"I put them in a secret spot in my vehicle, kind of under the car seat and I put some things over it just so they wouldn't be out in the open," said Tina Goodman of Port Washington.

Other tips include avoid carrying lots of cash to deter pick pocketing, and park in a well-lit, populated area.

It's also smart to plan ahead.

"Am I going from one store to the next? Am I going from one store to my house and really pay attention to those things," Zalewski added.

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