• Jim Leach


The holidays are fast approaching and for most of us that means shopping and traveling to see friends and loved ones. Here are some simple tips to help make you have a safe and happy holiday season. The suggestions are excerpts from the book Simply Safer by Jim Leach, available soon on

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Holiday shoppers can be easy targets for criminals. Follow these safety tips.

  • Have a safer shopping trip

  • This may be the most important section of all for most folks. When you are shopping at the grocery store, department store, or wherever, a criminal may get the idea that you have money going in to shop and money and valuables when you coming out after you have finished shopping. This is just what the bad guy is looking for!

  • Try and plan your shopping trip in trip in the DAYTIME.

  • If you must go at night Do Not go alone and always park in a well lighted area.

  • If you cannot find a well lighted parking space with a well lighted path to the store door, drive around until one comes open.

  • Forget about convenience for a minute and think about your safety.

  • Do Not park next to an occupied vehicle, there is no tellingwho might be in that vehicle or what he is planning on doing.

  • Park as near to the building entrance as possible. The more time you spend between the building and your car, the more vulnerable you are.

  • Be aware! Check your surroundings before leaving the safety of your vehicle

  • Lock your doors

  • Do Not leave valuables in plain view in the passenger compartment of your vehicle. Put them in the trunk or an area where he can’t be seen. As a police officer once told me, “A thief will knock the windows of your car if he sees a quarter in your ash tray.”

  • Be sure you know which entrance you are going to use and exactly where it is before getting out of your car.

  • If possible, walk with others that you know or feel comfortable with. In many instances, the old saying, “there is safety in numbers”, is very true.

  • Going into or coming out of the store;

  • Secure valuables and cash

  • Keep handbags and pockets closed

  • If you have a handbag, keep your hands on it but do not wrap any strap around your neck. If someone does try and snatch your purse, you do not want him to break your neck along with stealing your belongings!

  • Back pockets are very accessible so place billfolds or cash in front pockets or inside coat pockets. If you place your valuables in a coat pocket, keep the coat on!

  • Only carry as much cash as you think you will need and Do Not show your cash when making a purchase.

  • If you are carrying extra cash, keep it in more than one place (maybe some in a pocket and some in a handbag or billfold).

  • This may keep an aspiring thief from knowing how much money you have which could make you a less inviting target. It also keeps her from knowing where your money is located.

  • If you use this tactic, even if you get robbed, maybe she won’t get all your money

  • When you are finished shopping and are leaving the building, once again, be aware of your surroundings.

  • Look around the parking lot, especially near your car.

  • If you see or hear anything that you do not feel comfortable with;

  • Stay in the building until the suspicious person or persons leave or you can exit with a group.

  • If need be contact someone who works in the store.

  • When you are leaving be sure to secure your valuables.

  • Maybe you could make arrangements for someone to pick you up at the door.

  • If you have mace or pepper spray have it in your hand or readily accessible.

  • If you spray mace or pepper spray, try and spray it downwind so it doesn’t blow back in your face!

  • Have your keys in your hand ready to open your car.

  • Do Not unlock your doors too soon and give an attacker a chance to jump in your vehicle.

  • Do Not open all the doors unless it’s absolutely necessary.

  • Your keys can also be used as a weapon to jab an attacker and help you escape!

  • If you see someone loitering near your vehicle, stay away.

  • Return to the building and contact store or security personnel.

  • Do not be embarrassed to do this, he will be glad to help you.

  • As you approach your vehicle, look to see if someone is hiding underneath your car or another car nears yours.

  • Also make sure no one is inside your vehicle before you get in.

Jim Leach is the author of The Leach Report, which can be found at “” as well as “You Can Tell ME, a simple guide to effective interviewing” which is available on in both paperback and Kindle editions. Jim Leach is a former Director of Criminal Investigations for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

All rights reserved Leach Training 2019