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Preventing Theft During the Holidays

The Holiday season is a joyous time of year. Family and friends gather to celebrate the holidays, exchange gifts and reflect on the memories made during the past year. While the holiday season is a time for giving for many of us, there is a select few that relish the holidays for a different reason. The holiday season is prime time for burglars and thieves. These “Grinchy” criminals know that shoppers generally carry more cash, credit cards, and gift cards with them during the holidays. Thieves are also aware that many families travel or leave their homes unattended during the holidays, and that people are busy with shopping and attending parties and may be more likely to leave their homes unlocked.

A startling statistic, while crime rates vary by region, “there are an estimated 2.5 million burglaries per year and 66% of those are home break-ins,” according to FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR).

While insurance may reimburse the homeowner for property stolen during a break-in, there is nothing that will relieve a person’s safety concerns or restore their peace of mind after they have experienced a break-in. While no one wants to spend their holiday season thinking about what would happen if they were victimized to thieves, it is important to take steps to take preventive and cautionary measures to try an avoid the unpleasant experience of holiday theft.

Here are nine ways to avoid falling victim to thieves this holiday season:

  1. Track your packages and be aware of deliveries: Packages left on porches are easy targets for thieves nicknamed “Porch Pirates”. Try to ensure your deliveries arrive while you are home and never leave a package on your porch overnight. If you know that you will not be home to accept delivery of a package, ask a neighbor to grab it for you, arrange to pick up the item, or consider having the item shipped to your workplace or to a trusted friend.
  2. Lock all doors and windows:  this may seem like common sense, but during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it is easier to forget to lock a door. Whether at home or away, always keep your doors and windows locked and secured. Make sure to activate any home alarms or security systems. If your home is not alarmed, it’s always a good idea to ask a neighbor or trusted friend to keep an eye on on your home while and also to alert local police to your travel plans. Before leaving your vehicle, make sure you have locked the doors. Leaving your vehicle unattended even for a few moments can offer thieves the opportunity they are looking for to steal it.
  3. Have the Post Office Hold Your Mail While Traveling: If you have planned to travel during the holiday season, contact the post office to have them hold your mail, so that there will not be a stack of newspaper and bills signaling a potential thief that homeowners are away.
  4. Keep your lights on:  The majority of thieves won’t attempt a break-in if they think people are at home. When traveling or away from home, keep your home’s exterior lights on and use a timer switch the interior lights on at night.
  5. Hide any gifts out of plain sight that are in your car: While shopping, don’t leave bags and purchases laying out in your car where any thief walking by can see them and attempt to break in. Secure items in your trunk or under car seats if possible. This tip goes for gifts in your home as well. Make sure that boxes for big ticket items such as flat screens and laptops aren’t in view of any windows. Make sure these boxes are shredded and fully enclosed in trash or recycle bins on waste collection days as well.
  6. Ladies, secure your purses: The seat of the shopping cart may seem like the perfect place to put your purse to get it off your shoulder while shopping but if you look away or leave your cart for a split second, it gives thieves the opportunity to steal it. Consider wearing a cross body bag while shopping, or hook the purse strap around your arm before laying it in the cart. Try not to carry alot of cash, or all your credit and debit cards with you, so that if you should become the victim of theft, you still have some form of payment available to you.
  7. Pay attention to your surroundings: When parking your car, make sure you are in a well lit parking area and always keep an eye out for suspicious activity or people. In the holiday rush, you may not notice someone following you. Install a panic alarm on your phone and be prepared to use your car alarm at the first sign of trouble, in order to signal for help.
  8. Stay safe shopping online: While doing any online shopping, make sure to only buy from trusted retailers with a good reputation for customer service and track your packages. Just in case one fails to show up and suspect it has been taken. Related: Staying Safe Online Cyber Monday and During the Holiday Shopping Season.
  9. Protect yourself from loss with the proper levels of insurance: No matter how cautious you are or how many preventive measures you take, it is still possible that you’ll fall victim of theft. We hope you’ll never have to experience a loss.  However, by investing in the proper levels of homeowners insurance or  renters insurance, and auto insurance, you will have the peace of mind knowing that you are protected in the event a theft during the holiday season or anytime. It’s also a good idea to ask your McSweeney & Ricci Account Manager about identity theft coverage.

    For more information on an insurance program customized your individual needs and the outstanding service you deserve, contact us today!

    Source:
    PC 360: “A Dozen ways to prevent theft during the holidays” https://www.propertycasualty360.com/2017/12/11/a-dozen-ways-to-prevent-theft-during-the-holidays/
    Crime Prevention Security Systems: https://www.cpss.net/about/blog/2013/11/stay-safe-crime-rates-increase-during-holiday-season/
    FBI Uniform Crime Reporting: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/property-crime

 

 

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