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Christmas shopping safety tips from a self-defense instructor

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Posted: Friday, December 20, 2019. 9:31 am CST.

By BBN Staff: As December 25 draws nearer, last-minute shopping draws an increasing number of people out of their homes to get gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, that also means that they become exposed to the possibility of being robbed or mugged as they go about their business.

We spoke with Renee Wentz, a certified self-defense instructor, this week to find out what are her tips to maximize safety while Christmas shopping. This is what she had to say:

1. Manage your loads.

Wentz recommends that when shopping, don’t carry more than you can on one hand. “You want one hand free to more easily maneuver. If you have a vehicle, make frequent trips to it, and place everything in the locked trunk of the car. Then return to shopping. If you are walking, carry packages in one hand and when they get too heavy, transfer them to the other side,” she said.

2. Don’t wear jewelry when walking around

Gold jewelry of any type and size is always a target for thieves. Wentz recommends not wearing jewelry if you will be walking for any amount of time, and to only put on jewelry if you’ll be staying indoors for an extended period, remembering to take it off before leaving.

3. Be alert

“Pay close attention to your surroundings and notice anything that seems unusual. It’s easy to get distracted by holiday music and displays, so don’t let your focus be only on those while missing what else is happening around you… Often our bodies will register danger before our brains do. If you feel that way, look around and see what might be coming. Pay attention to the warning signs from your body,” Wentz said.

4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Being conscious about your valuables plays an integral role in staying safe. Wentz explains that when carrying large amounts of cash it is better to split the amount and carry a small amount in a wallet or purse that can be lost in the event of a robbery. She suggested finding alternate places on your body to carry the other portion of cash such as a pocket or shoe. “If stopped by a thief and asked for your valuables, you can then give up your wallet or purse without a fight. Most criminals will think they have all your valuables and since they don’t want to get caught, they will take off. Remember, anytime a fight begins for ‘stuff,’ you could get injured badly or die.”

5. Make your bags difficult to snatch

When traveling, Wentz suggests that a backpack is the best way to carry items. The shoulder straps make a backpack much more difficult for someone to snatch. Similarly, women who carry a purse should consider one that has a thick strap that can go across the body.

“Carry the purse away from the road as most thieves will not run through shops and yards as it is more difficult. When you cross the street, adjust your bag. A bag for a laptop or other electronic gear isn’t recommended because it suggests or advertises that you have those items to steal.”

And 6. Travel in groups, designate a lookout

“When attending holiday parties, make sure that someone from your group is the designated sober person. Even if you will be using a taxi, it’s important to have one person who will be in charge and look out for the safety of the entire group. Take turns if you will be attending multiple parties or celebrations.”

Wentz, the founder of and instructor at SHE Thing Self Defense and Personal Safety, teaches courses to individuals and groups. Persons wishing to make learning self-defense a part of their new year’s resolutions can contact Wentz to schedule a session via WhatsApp at 630-5571 or through the social media page https://www.facebook.com/S.H.E.Thing.SelfDefense.

Breaking Belize News (BBN) joins Wentz in hoping that Belizeans “Stay smart. Stay strong. Stay safe!” during this Christmas season.

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