Safety tips for Black Friday shoppers

Safety tips for Black Friday shoppers

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Black Friday will once again draw millions of shoppers, and their money, to stores around the country.

It's become more popular over the years, but at times it's become more dangerous, too.

You can't be responsible for how others behave, but there are things you can do to help keep you from becoming a victim no matter where you go shopping. Year after year, scenes of violence and fights pop up around the country when Black Friday rolls around.

And while you may not get that excited over a bargain come Friday, leaving the store can still be dangerous.

"Many of the victims that I've interviewed over the years say, 'I never saw him coming' or 'I never expected this,'" said Gary Glemboski, WTOC safety and security expert.

Glemboski said the key to staying safe is awareness.

"It's happened to everybody, if you've ever been doing anything like shopping or looking at something in a bookstore and somebody comes up and goes, 'Hey!' and taps you on the shoulder and you jump. Obviously you weren't aware they were there. You were surprised. What if that was a real bad guy? Now you become a victim," he said.

Here's a quick and easy thing you can do: when walking from the store to your car, make it a habit to put your phone away. And when you get to your car, Glemboski says stop and look around before getting in. He even suggests using a flashlight to look around your car.

"It sounds paranoid, but it's better than fumbling for your keys in the dark. Again, bad guys are going to, that's when you're most vulnerable, when you're not focused on what's going on around you," said Glemboski.

WTOC's Steven Gallo spoke with about half a dozen people Monday night who said they're skipping Black Friday this year - and for a number of them safety is a concern.

"You don't really want to take little children with you with all the crowds, and with the ISIS stuff going on, it is a little scary," said Dianne Lawson, shopper from Swainsboro.

"It shouldn't start so early in the morning - 5 o'clock in the morning - when it's dark out. They should push it back a little later when it's lighter out. It's safer," said Pristina Harris, shopper from Pooler.

"Well I think a lot of times, people should be concerned about their surroundings and pay attention especially during dark and during holidays. Just pay attention, because we never know what people are thinking," said Charlotte Speed, shopper from Savannah.

Now if you do come across a confrontation in a store, Glemboski says just go the other way. As he put it, "A fight avoided is a fight won."

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