The holidays are about being thankful and joyous and sharing that with others. BUT….. the holidays are also the criminals’ busy season! Most thieves are criminals of opportunity and look for easy targets. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season distract you from practicing personal safety and security!
Here are a few safety tips to help you make it through the holiday season:
- Leave the lights on or set automatic timers for the interior and exterior lights to give the impression that someone is home. Thieves generally avoid homes that appear occupied.
- Don’t display your gift piles in front of windows and exterior doors.
- Don’t run extension cords for your lights &/or decorations through your doors and windows. Leaving the doors and windows unlocked creates a vulnerability for criminals to exploit.
- Be cautious of strangers and be aware of who you interact with! DO NOT let strangers into your home! You do not have to answer the door, but let them know someone is home. Don’t be afraid to ask for identification.
- Break down empty boxes and other packaging when disposing of them. You don’t want to display to criminals what you have for them to steal.
- Keep your doors and windows locked while at home and especially when you leave.
The increase of online gift buying inevitably welcomes an increase in package theft. Packages are being stolen right off of our front porches. Then, you have mail carriers that spend more time finagling packages to balance on a mailbox than it would have taken to just deliver it to my door (I know, I watched as she tried to deny the laws of physics!). Over 11 million home owners have had packages stolen in the last year alone and we’re just getting into the season, so what to do?
- Install highly visible security cameras pointed at the package drop-off area.
- Request a signature confirmation that your package was properly delivered.
- If your not going to be home, have a trusted neighbor or a close friend collect and hold onto your packages until you get home.
- Keep the delivery area clean and visible. This makes the thief more likely to be seen, creating a deterrent. Remember, thieves want to go undetected.
- Have your packages delivered to a P.O. box.
- Have your packages delivered to your work.
- Install a package drop box. They usually have an easy drop-off slot, but package retrieval requires a key.
- Make sure to communicate delivery instructions to the different carriers.
- Post your vacation photos after you return home. Posting pictures while you’re gone advertises to criminals that your home is currently unoccupied.
- Have a close relative or trusted friend check your home periodically and collect the mail and newspaper.
- Try to avoid shopping alone, “safety in pairs”.
- Park in well lit areas.
- Never leave personal items unattended. Keep you purse or other valuables on your persons.
- Don’t leave your valuables or your new purchases visible in your vehicle. Put them in your trunk before you leave for your next destination.
- Once again, be aware of strangers that approach you for any reason!
- Ask store security or a store employee to walk you to your vehicle if you feel any suspicion.
- Have your keys out and ready before heading to your car.
- Check around your car and in the backseat before getting into your vehicle.
- Lock your doors as soon as you get into your car and don’t linger for too long before driving away.
- If someone approaches you while you’re sitting in your car, don’t roll the window down all the way. Crack the window enough that they wouldn’t be able to stick their arm in.
Always be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts!