While there isn’t much time left to finish Christmas shopping, many of us will be in a mad dash to get those last few items on our list. It is easy to get distracted with our heads filled with anticipation of seeing family, holiday travel, good food and good cheer. While you are out shopping or out celebrating—don’t let your guard down. Criminals know this time of year people are merrier, celebrating more and spending more money. Many desperate people will not hesitate to rob you. Staying safe starts with situational awareness—be extra diligent this holiday season at the mall, while celebrating and at home.
We have some long winter months ahead of us, which means it gets dark earlier. Most likely when you walk to your car after work, the sun has already set. If you must shop at night, pick a well-lit area to park your car. Typically, mall parking lots have plenty of large lights to park under. Avoid the parking garage if you can. While you pick a parking spot, take note of the cars parked around you. It is best not to park by a car that someone is sitting in. Do not leave your GPS unit, iPod, iPad, laptop, gifts or anything else of value in your car while you are shopping. If possible, shop during the day and with a friend. Keep packages locked in your trunk and covered with a blanket or coat if possible. Personally, I only shop at one place per trip, so I’m not loading up my truck with packages that sit unattended for hours.
Inside the mall, keep a tight grasp on your purse or wallet and do not overload yourself carrying packages. When you are walking to the car and you don’t have a free hand, you become an easy target. Always get your keys out and ready before you head to the parking lot. Walk with your head up and with purpose. Criminals are least likely to target you when you portray an air of self-confidence.
Beware of scammers. Do not buy from people in parking lots or on the streets. If someone offers you a good price on a Rolex or an iPad, I’m sure it’s too good to be true. These items are generally fake or stolen.
During this time of year, don’t carry around a lot of cash. Use debit card or a credit cards to make purchases. This way, you avoid ATMs and if your wallet is stolen, you can quickly call and cancel my cards.
The best way to prevent a home break-in is to make sure your house is not an easy target. There are quite a few quick, easy and affordable ways to make your home more secure. For an in-depth look at securing your home, read Home Defense Equipment: Is Your House Secure? For now, especially if you are going to be traveling, make sure your porch lights are working. Keep them on overnight. A few bucks extra on the electricity bill are worth it. Burglars are less likely to break into a well-lit home. Keep lights and TVs on timers, so it looks like people are home at different times. If you will be gone, have a trusted neighbor pick up mail and newspapers, and change up the lighting in your home.
Traditionally, we put our lighted Christmas trees somewhere in view through a window. A Christmas tree is a clear indication that gifts are also there. Keep presents away from windows and doors. Do you put up a Christmas tree so your family can enjoy it or do you do it for the neighbors? The Christmas tree and presents do not necessarily have to be on display for the world to see.
When bringing home high dollar items, park in the garage and close the door before taking them inside. If you do not have a garage, be as discreet as possible when taking them inside. After taking the new items out of the boxes, break up those boxes so people cannot see what brand new toys and such you have.
Tis the season for parties and merriment. There is nothing wrong with having a good time and enjoying yourself with friends and family—just be careful! Don’t drink and drive. Have the number for a taxicab company, download the Uber app and enough cash to pay for a ride home or make sure you have a designated driver. Keep your gas tank full so you do not have to stop at the gas station late at night. Before heading out for a night on the town let a friend or family member know what your plans are.
If you are celebrating at a bar, never leave your drink unattended. Further, watch the bartender make the drink. At any time you cannot see the drink or if the bartender hides it from you before serving it, do not accept it.
From all of us at Cheaper Than Dirt!, have a wonderful and safe Christmas season.
Another important tip is after Christmas, do not leave your empty boxes sitting next to or sticking out of the trash, especially the big screen TV box or other easily recognizable, logo-emblazed boxes of expensive merchandise. Cut them up and put IN the trash, or remove all mailing labels or anything that identifies you as the owner, and take them to a public trashcan or apartment trash can.
Regarding mail, I no longer ask neighbors to watch my home or pick up mail. I asked my next door neighbor I thought I knew, had been neighbors for years.
They collected my mail and packages sent by friends and family.
They opened and stole cash and checks sent for christmas.
They took deliveries by ups as well.
It is very simple to stop mail delivery while you are gone, you can just as easily stop paper boy and ups deliveries.
Nowadays you can’t trust neighbors even.
Yes, I also want to wish everyone a happy winter holiday season, and hope you can enjoy it without regard to race, creed, color, religious, or sexual preferences, including transgender and pangender persuasions.
And also remember, while shopping for holiday gifts or singing holiday carols, please be on the lookout for terrorists and those pesky Syrian refugees.
Another great article, Suzanne. All good tips but I fear we are all preaching to the choir. How do we broaden the horizons of others?
Merry Christmas to all . . and keep your head on a swivel.
I work in Jackson, MS. Auto burgerlies are off the chart. I witnessed one that took all of 2 to 3 minutes. Two guys pull up beside parked vehicle, one stayes in the driver’s seat & the other jumps out with sledge hammer & busts out passenger window of pickup truck. Dude dives in head first with his lower legs dangling out the window. There were in & out in about 5 minutes. Called the police & they informed me that “Yeah, THEY TARGET VEHICLES WITH NRA OR HUNTING RELATED DECALS BECAUSE THERE’S LIKELY TO BE GUNS IN THOSE VEHICLES.” (emphasis added). I no longer display any such decals. A word to the wise!
I never did and never will. Not only do they make you a target for criminals, they make you a target for cops that want to hassle you about having a gun, especially if you are traveling and pass through a Nazi state like NJ, Maryland, California or NY.
As much as I like to support the manufacturers of the equipment I own, I will not put any stickers in the windows or bumpers of my vehicles just because i don’t want to advertise what’s in my truck or home. It is best to be anonymous with all the criminals looking for easy victims. Just remember that just we can’t stand Odumbo – there are enough of nuts out there that he got re-elected so no need to give them a target.
That sounds really crazy about Jackson, MS. I haven’t heard any of this on the news in Phoenix, but I see so many guys driving around with cool looking “molon labe” and AR-15 silhouette decals on their back window. There’s NO FRICKIN WAY I would ever do that, even though I may have more guns in my car than they do.
Since I like being under the radar and inconspicuous, I may even put a Green Peace or Save The Whale sticker on my SUV, just for funsies.
Or better, an Obama sticker. That will deter most gun thiefs
It amazes me how many people walk around without having a clue as to whats going on around them.
Yup, just look at all the idiots on subways, buses and city streets with their iPod buds jammed into their ears while they mess with their “smart” phone.
Hey Bill from Boomhower… Merry Christmas, same to all those at CTD! Have a safe and happy New Year. God Bless.
Any of these scenarios would not be the place to exude the same arragent macho B.S. that many of the thread responders normally use here. You know who you are. Victems usually say it couldn’t happen to them. Be very aware, pay attention to details, if something doesn’t look quite right, paying attention to behavior of those around you may warn you of impending crime, whether against you or someone nearby.