It’s no secret that you’ll encounter crowded stores, malls, and parking lots this time of year. Whether it’s Black Friday or any other shopping day for you, troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol wants to make sure you are safe while shopping. As parking areas fill during the holiday season, shoppers are often forced to park from shopping center exits, sometimes in poorly lighted areas. With Daylight Savings Time ending in November, you’ll probably walk into the store while the sun is up and leave when it’s dark out. Which is exactly why FHP wants you to follow these tips: • Park as close to entrances and exits as you possibly can. • Always try to walk to and from your car with another person. If you are shopping alone, consider walking near other shoppers in the parking lot. • If you are shopping alone and leaving at night – particularly if you’re carrying several bundles of gifts, you can ask a security officer to walk you to your car. Troopers say most malls will provide that service. • If you can’t find a spot up close and have to venture into the far reaches of the lot, try to find a spot that’s well-lit or near a well-traveled road. • You should put all of your purchases in your trunk and away from plain sight to prevent possible thieves. Troopers suggest saving your most expensive purchases for last, so you can head straight home. • Make sure you have all the right kind of equipment if you’re buying a huge load, a tree, or any type or large cargo. • Have your keys ready when you approach your car. Before entering, do a double check to make sure nobody is inside (who is not supposed to be). If you think about being followed, FHP is providing the following tips: • Don’t drive home. You would only be telling your follower where you live. • They want you to stay calm. As long as you think clearly, troopers say you’ll be in control of the situation. • Flash your lights and honk your horn long enough to attract attention to you, and consequently the person following you. • Drive to a safe location, like a police station or another type of law enforcement station. Do not leave this safe location, until you’re sure your follower is gone.