Tis the season to be jolly, but it is also the season to be wary of burglars, thieves, pick-pockets and other holiday grinches. Nothing can ruin your holiday spirit faster than becoming the victim of a crime. By using a little planning and common sense, most holiday crimes can be avoided.
If you have a business, holiday safety tips for businesses can be found here.
- Whether you are leaving the house to go shopping or out for an evening of parties, lock your doors and windows. Don't leave the drapes open with your gifts in plain view. Gifts displayed around your tree is a pretty sight, but can also be tempting to burglars. It is better to scatter them around the house, in closets or cupboards, where they can't be easily seen.
- If you choose to have a live tree, make sure it is watered on a regular basis. Never leave tree lights on when no one is home. Ornaments can also burn.
- If you are leaving town, make sure your home appears occupied. Leave inside and outside lights on timers and have your neighbors pick up mail and take flyers off your door. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway. Put a timer on a talk radio station for several hours a day to make it appear someone is home.
- When shopping, use your trunk to keep packages out of sight. Make several trips to your car to deposit packages in the trunk. Don't allow your self to become to burdened with shopping bags that you become a target. Keep your car locked at all times. When walking through a parking lot, be aware of your surroundings. Walk with authority. Don't look like a victim.
- If you have a garage door opener, don't leave it openly displayed in your car. Keep the door leading from your house to the garage locked. Don't leave your garage door open.
- Be aware that thieves and pick-pockets do some of their biggest business during the holidays. Don't dangle your handbag from your shoulder. That's the perfect setup for a purse-snatcher. Instead, keep it tucked tightly under your arm. Better yet, don't carry one if you don't have to.
- Place your checkbook, cash or credit cards in your front pockets. Avoid carrying your checkbook, cash and credit cards all together in one wallet. If stolen, the thief gets the whole package together, can cash checks with your identification, and run up a large credit card bill in a short amount of time.
- Don't put our empty boxes advertising your new purchases (DVR, stereo, gaming systems, etc.). Break the boxes down and place them in the trash, dumpster or recycle bin.
- Never give your credit card number over the telephone when you did not make the call.
- If you are shopping online, be sure the website you are purchasing from is secure. The URL of the website will begin with "https" instead of "http". Shop with companies that are reputable. Do not give out personal information (i.e., social security number) unless you know who is collecting the information, why they are collecting it, and how they are going to use it.
- Don't "flash" large amounts of money in public. You never know who is watching you. Spread money around in different pockets. This way a pick-pocket can't clean you out with one move.
- If you go to an ATM, try to go during daylight hours. If at night, pick a machine that is well-lit and visible to passing traffic or is inside a grocery or convenience store. If anyone is lurking near the machine, find another.
- When using valet service, don't leave any personal information in your car and never leave your house key with the attendant.