SARASOTA- Once the Thanksgiving dishes are finished off, plenty of people will be heading out to the stores for Thanksgiving and Black Friday Shopping. Staying safe while Thanksgiving shopping starts with a plan.

“Where are you going,” Lt. Donny Kennard said. “Timing things out, can you organize things to where you shop with a friend or bring someone with you, safety in numbers.”

Parking lots are sure to be busy, so stay alert in the parking lot.

“Don’t be distracted,” Lt. Kennard said. “Don’t be distracted when you’re driving, put your cell phones down, kind of start with where are you going to park in the parking lot, if you have a chance to park in a well-lit area, that’s certainly optimal to the dark edges of the parking lot.”

And when you are grabbing the deals in the store, be aware of your surroundings.

 “Avoid leaving your purses or personal belongings in shopping carts that others may have access too,” Lt. Kennard said. “When you have your purchases and you’re leaving the buildings, just keep good situation awareness, look around and see if there is any odd characters that are following you and around there.”

Once the bags are back in your car. Be sure to cover up your purchases and lock the car doors.

“The fact that burglars can look inside the window and see packages, see purses,” Lt. Kennard said. “Your cell phones, your designer sunglasses, laptops, those types of easy access things, plus a big bag with brand name merchandise on it that’s a big target for would be thieves.”

And if you need them, Sarasota Sheriff’s Deputies will be available.

“We’ll definitely be stepping up our enforcement,” Lt. Kennard said. “In malls and various other high traffic thoroughfares, from all aspects of the sheriff’s office.”