Why are thieves happy? The natural hustle and bustle of the holiday season creates an environment where thieves can disappear or rather blend in with the rest of the crowd. As you go about your holiday shopping, thieves can pickpocket and steal more easily. Professional thieves also realize that security and police are kept busy trying to cover the extended shopping hours and contending with amateur shoplifters. The professional thieves also target cars in the parking lots looking for cell phones and other valuables left behind.
Many experts report that home burglaries increase dramatically during the holidays. Thieves know people spend more time out of the home shopping, going on vacation, etc. Make sure your doors are locked and that you have a quality lock – your door is only as good as the lock you put on it.
How to Keep From Becoming a Victim This Holiday Season:
If you go on vacation:
- Lock your doors securely
- Use intermittent timers for your lights
- Leave a car in the drive
- Have your mail and newspaper stopped
- Tell a trusted neighbor
- Don’t announce your trip on social media
- Store valuable in a safe – remember that the master bedroom is one of the first places thieves will look
- Move valuables and stacks of presents away from windows – nothing should be visible
- If you need to get cash, do so before dark
- Pick a location that is well lit or better yet, one that is inside a store
- Be aware of your surroundings and cover the keypad as you enter your PIN
- You can also use the cash back option at most stores when making a purchase
- Keep the amount you withdraw as small as possible
In Store Shopping:
- Stick with daylight hours. If you are shopping after dark, park in well-lighted areas as close to the door as possible and use the buddy system. Even if you and your friend are visiting different stores in the mall, you can meet up prior to exiting the mall. Make sure you finish your shopping well before closing time and avoid being the last one out of the store.
- Avoid parking next to vans or trucks which limit your sight
- Do not leave packages or other valuables visible in your car
- Have your keys ready before you walk out of the store
- Limit what you keep in your purse – remove extra credit cards or extra cash you don’t need
- Keep your purse close to you or consider a smaller wallet you can carry inside your coat
- Keep your card in your wallet until you are ready to pay so others can’t look over your shoulder
- Keep a record at home of all your credit card numbers and the contact information for each company (keep it in a safe place)
Online Shopping Tips
- Update your security software
- Make sure the websites you are shopping are secure – there should be “https” in the url address
- Shop with companies you know rather than trying new “bargain” sites
- Be very careful with your personal information – beware of businesses that contact you and ask for verification of your personal details like a PIN, password or credit card number
- Have packages shipped to your work or a neighbor’s house if they are home all day. Thieves like to drive around neighborhoods or follow delivery trucks and steal packages that have been left on the recipient’s porch or back step.
Even after you’re done shopping you need to keep yourself from being a target. Thieves will look at the boxes you put out to the curb. If you just bought an expensive gaming system don’t put the box in a visible location – collapse the box and turn it inside out before placing it at the curb, tuck it inside another flattened box or take the empty box directly to a recycling facility.
When in doubt, always be cautious and aware of your surroundings. If for any reason you do not feel safe contact store security or your local police department.