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Another View: An ounce of prevention can be worth the peace of mind

It started out as small talk.

A birthday celebration brought neighborhood friends, including yours truly, together recently.

In the period before dinner when conversations circle around shared friends, new jobs and other life events since the last gathering, a friend recounted the story of when her wallet was stolen while shopping at the nearby location of a national warehouse-style retailer.

The volume of her scream when she realized her wallet was gone, she said, made other shoppers turn and look.

Unfortunately, as a number of recent news releases from state police and other local police departments reveals, she is not alone.

For example, a recent shopper from New Tripoli lost $10 cash, several store credit cards, two Visa cards, a Mastercard and a driver’s license when her wallet was stolen while she was shopping Nov. 28 in Lower Macungie Township, according to Pennsylvania State Police, Fogelsville.

Another account from state police detailed how a Lower Macungie Township resident’s car was stolen from her driveway sometime between 9:15 p.m. Nov. 18 and 6 a.m. Nov. 19.

The vehicle was later recovered; however, the resident’s purse was stolen from the vehicle, including her wallet in which her driver’s license and nine credit cards were kept. An attempt was made to use at least one of the credit cards, according to state police.

In an incident in early November, a person discovered her wallet was missing after dining out at a local restaurant. Her wallet reportedly held $80 cash, several credit cards, her driver’s license and a Medicare card, according to police. Two of her credit card companies alerted her to attempts to use her cards. The companies denied and declined the purchases.

The NYPD, as “Law and Order” television franchise fans might expect, offers some advice on how to keep your wallet safe during the holidays or at any time.

First, carry only the cash and credit cards you plan to use on a given shopping trip or day. Strategically divide the cash and stow it in separate places such as an inside pocket of a jacket, coat or purse. Such a tactic also keeps a full wallet or large amount of cash from being too obvious when a bulge in a handbag or a pocket inadvertently offers an alert to a potential thief.

Second, for those who carry a purse, do not leave a purse unattended in a shopping cart or stroller or hang it over the back of your chair while dining out.

Third, carry your wallet in a front pocket. If using a purse, choose a cross-body bag and securely strap it across your body as the name implies.

In other words, eliminating the opportunity may offer the best protection.

Lastly, store a record of credit card account numbers in a separate and secure spot. The accompanying phone number to report a lost or stolen card may be worth noting as well to efficiently contact the card company ASAP. You also may want to include the overall contents of the wallet on the list.

Keep Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom in mind: An ounce of prevention can be worth what’s in your wallet. Or something like that.

April Peterson

editorial assistant

East Penn Press

Salisbury Press