Stateline Area Crime Stoppers hosts situational awareness training

FREEPORT, Ill. (WIFR) -- With the holiday shopping season in full gear, officials remind us to use one of the best self-defense tools we carry—awareness of our surroundings.

Dozens gathered at the Freeport Public Library to learn different types of criminal behaviors and what to do in emergency situations, including active shootings.

The Winnebago County Sheriff's Office says this time of year criminals often look for victims who are distracted, including holiday shoppers.

"They look for people who are overburdened, people who aren't paying attention," says Frank Ingardona, the sheriff department's training director. "Eyes on their phone, you know, different things like that. A lot of what I talk about is watch your surroundings, be aware."

The sheriff's department says we should also keep our key fobs with panic buttons close by while in parking lots, just in case we need to rapidly draw attention to the area.