Holiday Crime Prevention Tips
During the holidays, it is more likely that people become victims of a crime while they are tired, over-scheduled, distracted, and even more trusting, because after all ’tis the season.
A burglar alarm is a good deterrent for losses at your home but it doesn’t necessarily prevent your home from being burglarized. Expert burglars know they might have at least 5-10 minutes before police would actually arrive at your home while responding to an activated alarm. If you’re away, don’t make it easy for burglars to grab a laptop that is left on a dining room table or kitchen table that is in plain view from the outside. If thieves can plan ahead by seeing what you have just by looking through a window, there is greater likelihood they might choose your house — even if it has burglar alarm/security stickers or signs.
If you want to keep something in plain view, put a large dog food bowl and large dog water bowl in plain view.
If you are traveling and will be away from your house for a long time:
Get an automatic timer for one or more room lights.
Ask a trusted neighbor or family member to watch your home, and collect your mail.
Make sure you arrange for an independent worker or a plowing company to clear your driveway and sidewalks, or keep the lawn from getting too long if you’re gone for an extended period.
Don’t mention you absence on social media (Facebook, Twitter).
If you are out for a short time, the morning, afternoon or evening:
Turn on lights and a radio or TV so it looks like someone is home.
Always lock doors and windows when you leave, even if it’s just for a few minutes
Don’t leave your garage door open, even if the interior doors are locked. The thief could close the garage door and go to work inconspicuously to defeat the lock.
Do not display gifts or other valuables where they can be seen from outside.
When you leave your house, check the streets to see if you notice a suspicious car parked at the curb. If they seem suspicious, call the police. Many thieves sit on blocks and wait for people to leave for restaurants at dinner time. As soon as you leave, the burglary attempt begins.
While you are dining out, don’t mention where you live to staff or strangers. Don’t continue the conversation if the con tries to find out your address. Restaurant staffers have been known to be involved in crime rings — even involving repeat customers.
If a contractor is in your home, especially if you are not familiar with the contractor, don’t mention that you are going to be out of the house at a certain time, and again, don’t leave valuables in plain view, or place them in their secure storage location in view of a contractor you don’t know well.
While you are shopping:
Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you
Don’t leave your purse unzipped and open because talented thieves can grab a wallet in seconds.
Don’t leave your purse in a shopping cart at all. It’s too easy to walk away from the cart, and get distracted. You could get in a conversation with a neighbor. Or a team member of a group of thieves could intentionally distract you by taking advantage of your good nature, while cohorts grab your purse.
Carry your purse close to your body and your wallet in your inside or front pockets.
Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Avoid carrying large sums of cash or avoid displaying that you have large sums of cash. Try to pay with credit cards.
Do not carry too many packages. You could be more likely to be “hit” for a large prize of the thieves in a short time.
Park in well-lit areas, and be sure to lock your car, close all windows and place shopping bags and other valuables in the trunk.
If you forget your phone in your car, immediately go get the phone.
If you use a remote, don’t unlock your car from a great distance. If you attempted to locate your car with your remote, and you are a good distance away, re-lock your car. Don’t give an assailant the chance to hide in your car for an ambush. Better yet, and especially if you are carrying a lot of packages, don’t use the remote from a distance to find your car. If thieves have been tracking you and your purchases, it is easier for them to be waiting near your car, or to plan their attack when they know where your vehicle is located.
Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated. Remind them to stay close to you at all times.
If a stranger comes to the door:
Thieves often try to take advantage of the generosity of residents during the holidays by going door-to-door for charitable donations, even when there’s no actual charity involved.
Some legitimate solicitors can double their enterprising efforts by sizing up your residence for a future burglary. Also some solicitors are team members of actual burglars. They are rewarded for reporting back on characteristics of your work patterns, or taking inventory of what they can see in your house.
Some offenders, not functioning as solicitors, might even perform their “assignment” while walking a dog. Be sure to call in any suspicious persons that seem to be looking in houses, or making observations in the neighborhood.
It is best not to answer the door, especially after dark. If you must answer the door (again, not recommended), ask for identification; and if you do not feel comfortable giving, Say NO. Keep your phone in your hand so that it would be easier to call for help, or even pretend someone is on the other end of the phone connection. Home invasions are not common, and often involve criminal cohorts battling over weapons, drugs, criminal proceeds and cash that they know are in the house; but why take a chance.
Don’t leave your doors unlocked while you’re working outside. Don’t leave your garage door open if you are not working near your garage. It is very easy for an offender to get in your unlocked front door if you are working in your backyard. It is also easier for criminals to double-team you. One attempts to distract you, while the other enters your unlocked door.
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