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/ Source: TODAY
By Lindsay Lowe

It can happen so quickly: You look away from your shopping cart to grab something off a shelf and when you turn back around, your purse is gone.

Shoppers should always be wary of purse thieves, but especially around the holidays, when people tend to be more frazzled and distracted (hello, Black Friday!).

One police department in New Hampshire has an easy tip for keeping your purse safe while holiday shopping. Simply attach your purse to the shopping cart, either with the cart’s built-in child safety belt or by using a cheap carabiner clip to attach the purse straps to the cart.

Also, make sure the purse is zipped shut so thieves can’t reach in and grab your wallet or other valuables.

The Windham Police Department in Windham, New Hampshire, shared the safety tip on Facebook, and it has since been shared more than 10,000 times.

This simple method can definitely thwart thieves who try to snatch an entire purse from a cart, taking advantage of a shopper's momentary distraction.

That said, clipping your purse to the cart shouldn't be your only theft prevention measure, says Officer Drake Madison, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department. Keeping an eye on your belongings at all times is still the best way to avoid theft, he says.

Clipping the purse "gives the person a false sense of security … but that doesn’t mean somebody can’t come along and stick their hand in the purse and take items, take a wallet,” he told TODAY Style.

“I think if you want to do that as a secondary (precaution), that’s fine, because obviously any deterrent or anything that’s going to give you a little bit more security is fine,” Madison said. “But the best thing to do is to just keep your eye on your purse. You don’t want to wander away from it.”

Madison also recommends limiting the amount of cash and credit cards you bring with you while shopping.

“If you’re going to be charging stuff, bring the one card you’re going to charge with as opposed to everything you have,” he told TODAY. “So in case there is a mishap and you become the victim of a theft, you don’t have to spend all day trying to cancel a bunch of cards.”

Also, he cautions men against keeping a wallet in their back pocket, which can make them easy pickings for criminals.

“I’m a firm believer in the front pocket,” he said. “It’s been decades since I’ve actually carried by wallet in my back pocket ... Front pockets are the best.”

Bottom line, Madison says, just stay aware of your surroundings while holiday shopping and keep a constant eye on your belongings, whether or not they’re clipped to your shopping cart.

“For safety itself, when it comes to Christmas shopping or around the holiday season, a lot of it is pretty much common sense,” he said.