Holiday Shopping Safety – Give Gifts to Your Loved Ones – Not to the Crooks!

Holiday Safety Tips SMPD

Happy Holidays From the San Mateo Police Department

and City of San Mateo Organization!

Holiday Season Shopping means lots of parked cars gathered in shopping centers, large restaurants, and parking garages – this is a ripe opportunity for criminals. 100% of recent window smash auto burglaries involved valuables left in plain view? SMPD reminds you to always lock your vehicles, even if leaving them for only a few moments, and stash your valuables OUT OF VIEW before you park. This includes any gifts and goods that you may accumulate as you shop.

The City of San Mateo Organization wants you to enjoy your Shopping Season – Follow these Tips:

With the holiday season such a hectic time of year; SMPD reminds you to be aware of your surroundings while shopping. We hope that you patronize all of our wonderful businesses in San Mateo who have been working very hard and pulled out all the stops to make this a great holiday shopping season for those who live, work and shop in San Mateo!!  Please take a moment to ensure that you and your family remain safe and have great holiday season.


  • Carry a cell phone, if you have one, and make sure you have SMPD’s Dispatch number – 650-522-7700 – programmed on your speed-dial.
  • Carry only small amounts of cash
  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible—or go with a friend if you shop at night (or the pre-dawn sales).
  • Carry keys, credit cards and cash separate from each other.
  • Be extremely careful and watchful when using ATM machines.
  • Wear conservative, comfortable clothing, and minimal jewelry.
  • While driving, keep your doors locked and windows rolled up – including in the parking lot.
  • Maintain at least half a tank of fuel


  • If you have to carry a purse, carry it close to your body and keep it zipped.
  • Park close to where you are going and park in a well-lit area.
  • Heighten your awareness – be aware of your surroundings and who is nearby.
  • Grip carried items firmly and do not leave them unattended.
  • Do not overload yourself with packages to maintain visibility and freedom of motion, and to avoid mishaps
  • Pay for purchases with a check or credit card when possible.
  • When hurried or in a crowded shop, take the time to make sure you get all forms of ID and credit cards returned to you before leaving.
  • Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost or stolen.
  • Keep a record of all credit card numbers in a safe place at home.
  • Keep a close eye on children while shopping.


  • Leave the mall before closing time; it is safer to walk out of the mall with other people.
  • Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con-artists” may try various methods of distraction with the intent of taking your money or belongings.
  • Use an escort or mall security if you have a lot of packages or if you are leaving the mall after closing.
  • When returning to your vehicle, carry your keys in your hand and be ready to unlock the door and enter as quickly as possible.
  • Check under your car as you approach it; this is a common spot for criminals to hide.
  • Check the interior of your car before entering.


  • After opening gifts, break down cardboard boxes of expensive electronics and put them somewhere out of public view prior to disposal, to hide the fact you have new high-value items in your home.

Wishing you a very safe and joyous holiday season, from the San Mateo Police Department and the entire City of San Mateo Organization!

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