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Strategies to make holiday shopping safer

safe shopping The holiday season is an active time for everyone--including criminals.
   The festive mood and decorations may lull you into a feeling of safety, but as you join the herds of merry shoppers in stores and malls, you need to be aware that there are predators around you choosing their prey.
   And to a greater degree than you think, the decision whether or not they will select you as a target is in your own hands, according to self-defense expert Paxton Quigley.
   Quigley says women can learn how to transmit the image of being an undesirable target.
   "If you've ever watched Wild Kingdom, you know that a lion doesn't just make a beeline for the nearest antelope to attack it." Instead, she says, the predator first surveys the herd unobtrusively to select his prey.
   The ideal victim will not be paying attention, not be looking around, maybe grazing with its head down, as if it hadn't much interest in its own survival.
   "The prey's unawareness lets the predator move close without being noticed, and its apparently weak survival instinct tells him the victim will be an easy target," she adds.
   "Remember that 90 percent of our communication with other people is body language," Quigley said.
   To send the message to the predators that you would make an undesirable "hard target," Quigley recommends seven strategies:
   1. Walk purposefully, confidently and erect.
   2. Be visibly alert and survey the environment constantly.
   3. Wear comfortable walking or running shoes (leave the 3-inch heels at home).
   4. Do not wear expensive-looking jewelry.
   5. Carry a fanny pack, or a shoulder bag, but with the strap crossing to the opposite shoulder and the bag's opening turned inwards.
   6. Carry few or no packages; instead, ask the store to deliver your purchases to the loading dock and have them loaded into your car.
   7. Walk to your car with your car keys ready in hand.
   These and other personal safety tips are covered in Paxton Quigley's resource booklet Nobody's Fool, Nobody's Victim, available free of charge by calling 1-800-800-1011.