Why women are targets for thievery over the holidays

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Regardless of how you shop this holiday season, experts recommend using their advice to stay safe from thieves, during the busiest time for crime of the year.

A new survey from TheStreet.com says 45% of respondents are using mobile phones and tablets to shop for the holidays. And shop.org says online sales are expected to increase by 15%.

While the survey found more people are browsing online than buying, experts recommend you find ways to stay safe.

Shop from a secure wifi connection; never open links from emails, in case they are scams; find smartphone applications to save you money and help find discounts; and use extra security when making payments online, by using services like Paypal and Google Wallet.

If you plan to stick with mall shopping over the holiays, there are other ways you can protect your family.

Lt. Cindy Kilgore of Crime Stoppers says the best thing people can do is be aware.

"It can happen so easily, and you wouldn't even know it," said Lt. Kilgore.

Kids, cell phones and iPods are big distractions that can keep people from their main focus: protecting their valuables and family. Because of the baggage, Lt. Kilgore says women are often targets.

"Not only physically speaking do women tend to be more vulnerable to thieves or to being victimized," said Lt. Kilgore, "but anything that is distracting, [like] children. But the fact we carry our valuables more accessible than men do, makes us more of a target as well. That's why I always advocate, leave as much as you can at home."

Another safety tip, keep your pockets zipped.

"Take advantage of further security by keeping that [pocket] zipped up, because you probably have a cell phone in that pocket," said Lt. Kilgore.

Finally, more mischief can happen outside the store, too. Keep your car doors locked, hide your valuables in the glove compartment, park near lights and the door, and remember keys and panic buttons can be used as weapons and alarms.

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