“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

The holiday season is upon us, and thieves are out in droves looking for vulnerable people and items. Before you head out to the stores for those blockbuster deals, make sure you review these holiday shopping safety tips.

1. Don’t shop alone. Always have a buddy with you or a few. When it comes to holiday shopping, there really is safety in numbers. Stick together and stay safer.

2. Always be aware of your surroundings. While in a store, in a mall or in a parking structure, always be on the lookout for anything or anyone suspicious. Avoid distractions such as looking at or talking on your phone while out shopping.

3. Make note or take a voice memo on your phone describing where you parked so you can find your car easily when you are done shopping. Wandering a parking lot or garage looking for your car leaves you vulnerable.

4. When returning to your car, have your keys out and ready in your hand before you leave the store or shopping center. Being fast when getting into your vehicle can help protect you from a lurking thief.

5. Conceal purchased merchandise well in your car. Don’t leave gifts out where thieves can see them and be tempted to break into your vehicle.

6. Avoid carrying cash. Pay for purchases with checks, credit cards or debit cards. Also, carry your wallet in your front pocket or your purse in front of you and zipped closed at all times to avoid a pick-pocketer.

7. Don’t leave phones, purses or other items of value visible in your vehicle. This is a good common sense practice year-round.

8. If shopping after dark, always park in well-lit areas with lots of people passing by to keep your vehicle safer from a break-in. Also walk on designated walkways that are well-lit to keep you visible to other shoppers.

Holiday shopping is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Thieves can destroy that experience. Follow these holiday shopping safety tips to deter thieves from targeting you this season.