Holiday Safety: Tips for Staying Safe and Preventing Crime Over the Holidays
by David Sung
The holiday season is an opportune time for criminals. Thieves can be trickier than we give them credit for, and know how to find easy targets over the holidays. People are out shopping alone, cars are filled with expensive items, and homes are left unoccupied and filled with holiday gifts. Here are some tips to keep you, your home, your car, and your belongings safe this holiday season.
Don’t advertise your home’s valuables. Dispose of gift boxes and packages with product labels away from your home. Take large boxes that contained expensive items and throw them away in a dumpster rather than putting them in your home’s trash can or out front for bulk trash pick-up. When ‘casing’ a home, thieves look for any tips on a potential robbery such as expensive electronic boxes in the trash, which indicate a home contains valuable items.
Keep gifts where they cannot be seen inside your home. Again, thieves are looking for a big score and a Christmas tree in your front window surrounded by gifts is an open invitation for criminals looking for targets.
Make it look like someone is home. Thieves want the home to be empty, and most home burglaries are carried out in ten minutes, so making it look like someone is always in your home is imperative. Start by leaving some lights on with the blinds closed and a radio or TV on when your house is unoccupied for even a short period of time. When traveling out of town on vacation, ask a neighbor or friend to watch your house, bring in the mail and newspapers, or park one of their cars on your driveway. You may also wish to invest in a timer for your lights, so they come on at night.
Tell someone where you are and where you’ll be going. You should always let someone know where you are and where you’ll be going when shopping alone. This information will be very helpful in making sure you return home safely.
Shop earlier in the day, rather than later in the evening. Daylight will provide you with more visibility and awareness of your surroundings.
Don’t overload your arms with bags and boxes so that you can maintain freedom of movement and have the best sightlines.
Be aware of your wallet or purse. Make sure you carry these items close to you at all times and don’t leave them unoccupied when away from your home. Men, consider moving your wallet to a more secure location, such as a breast pocket.
Pay with cards and/or checks when shopping and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. When you’re paying for items at the checkout counter, you never know who is watching, and can lose track of your surroundings while counting cash. Paying with cards or checks can help you avoid showing large amounts of cash to wandering eyes and help avoid making yourself a high value target for theft.
Park in well-lit areas where you and your vehicle can be seen by others, and found by you. Your automobile is more likely to become a target when it is out of sight and/or in dim lighting. You may also want to call someone on your cell phone when walking to and from your car alone.
Remove gifts and boxes in your car. It is best to remove any packages or gifts from your car when possible. If this can’t be avoided, place packages inside the trunk and lock it until the items can be removed.
Make sure cash and coins are out of sight inside your vehicle. Thieves would rather steal currency than have to sell electronics and look inside cars for cash and change when picking a target. Cars have been broken into for much less than a dollar in change.
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