5 ways to avoid being targeted by thieves

Maj. Jacob Ruiz offers tips to prevent theft

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – News 6 recently worked with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office to learn some of the best practices when it comes to avoiding being targeted by thieves.

After News 6 investigator Adrianna Iwasinski asked Maj. Jacob Ruiz about some of the do's and don'ts he most commonly sees while people are out in public, here are top five takeaways you should keep in mind that can lessen your chance of being targeted:

1. Make a plan

Before you head out shopping, plan out which stores you will visit, and before you go in, put your phone and keys away in a backpack or purse that will be worn securely across your body. Don't make it easy for a thief to grab it and run.

[RELATED: Are you a target for thieves? You might need one of these personal safety devices]

2. Pay attention to your surroundings

If you notice someone watching or following you, don't ignore it. Make eye contact and seek help.

3. Get off your phone

Phones are a red flag to predators and criminals that show you're distracted and not looking around or noticing them as they case you and your belongings.

4. Look before loading

When getting ready to load your car, look around the parking lot or parking garage and always secure your children first. The bags can wait. Make sure you don't get too distracted putting your kids or purchases in the car and keep looking around you. It's important that you don't keep your back turned or exposed for a long period of time. Crimes of opportunity only take seconds to commit.

5. Put away valuable items

If you leave bags or electronics in your car while you're shopping, don't leave them in plain sight. Instead, secure them in your trunk or, better yet, just take them home and secure them there. By doing that, you don't tempt a thief who sees your expensive purchase through the window to break it and try taking off with your items.

Ruiz also offers tips that can be useful in a number of different scenarios. Watch some of the practices he recommends, as well as what he suggests people avoid doing, in the video above.

You can also carry a personal safety device that will sound when pressed. Explore some of the top options here.