Police offer tips to avoid pickpockets, other thieves

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police are urging holiday shoppers to be extra cautious to avoid criminals. A police statement Monday says people are especially vulnerable to pickpockets when crowds swarm stores, sidewalks and subways and shoppers are preoccupied. Authorities say pickpockets often employ a ruse to distract the victim. Someone might drop loose change, faint in front of someone or bump into a person while another criminal preys on the shopper whose attention is diverted. Police also say pedestrians can avoid identity theft by keeping track of receipts and account information from credit cards and not carrying unnecessary personal information. Other tips include being alert, keeping purses close to the body and under a jacket, carrying wallets in front pockets and hiding packages stored in cars from view.