It's not the most jolly of topics this time of year, but not everyone is out to spread Christmas cheer.

Happy Black Friday, folks! Today is a day that many people will be hustlin' and bustlin' about to knock out as much of their Christmas shopping list as possible at the lowest price available. Unfortunately, this is also a day that thieves are lurking.

Jess, theft is not in the Christmas fairy tales.

But it does happen. I'm a firm believer in the "Lock, Take, Hide" mentality 24/7, but it's especially important today and through the holiday season. There are those who would love to steal those new, shiny presents right out of your car. Make sure, as you're going about your day, to be hiding those gifts, taking them with you, and always be locking your car. In a way, you car is a sitting duck in the store parking lot so don't make it easy for your vehicle to become a target.

As strange as it sounds, I also use the buddy system at this time of year. There is no reason for me to be shopping alone. First off, it's more fun with a friend however, it also makes me feel safe. Again, people can lurk in parking lots looking to steal you things, sometimes right out of your hands. Being in a group can discourage someone from attacking you.

I know, not the tale of sugar plum fairies you want to hear.

If you must be alone, stay off your phone and be aware of your surroundings. Keep your head on a swivel and try not to wonder aimlessly about the parking lot. Walk with intention. Carry some protection, like pepper spray or a stun gun, and have it ready to use. Also, I would recommend checking around your car and in the backseat as you approach it, then lock your doors as soon as you get in.

It doesn't stop there though.

Thieves are also waiting to steal your credit card information online. Many are already receiving deals on the Internet today and Cyber Monday isn't too far away. Double check URLs before entering your information. Hover over links to insure that they will take you to proper websites and not phony look-a-likes. If it doesn't feel legitimate, it probably isn't. Trust your gut.

It's so easy to get distracted this time of year. Don't get me wrong, the holiday season is filled with fun and laughter. I actually enjoy browsing the stores and looking for the perfect gift for those special people in my life. Just slow down and remain in the moment.

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