Good food, good cheer and, of course, gifts are some focal points of the holiday season. The hustle and bustle, however, may distract us from potential risks that can surround us this time of year. Thefts and break-ins may increase during the holidays, since thieves often know that many families travel during the holiday season potentially leaving their homes unattended or stocked with high-priced gifts. Consider these five ways to help protect your valuables, home and car this holiday season:
Many people look forward to visiting family or taking a trip while the kids are out of school over the holidays — and thieves might be looking forward to your trip, too. Unoccupied houses can be potential targets for burglary, but hiding the signs of vacancy may fool thieves into thinking you’re still home. Leaving lights on, asking a neighbor to get your mail and setting automatic timers on holiday lights and decorations may give the appearance of being home, says the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). It may also be a good idea to do a home security check and consider making any necessary updates before you leave.
Shopping often goes hand in hand with the holiday season. As you go from store to store, it can be tempting to leave bags and packages in the back seat of your car — and in plain sight of thieves. Be sure to hide your purchases or put them in the trunk, park in well-lit areas and lock your doors, adds the LAPD.
The first, and perhaps most important, step in keeping your home safe is to be vigilant about locking up. When leaving your home, keep in mind that thieves don’t always enter through the front door. Make sure all the doors, including back and patio doors, are locked. And finally, check your windows periodically to make sure the hardware is secure, says the LAPD.
If you prefer to do your holiday shopping online, it might be a good idea to start customizing the delivery times and locations for your packages to help deter theft, says Consumer Reports. Most shipping carriers may allow you to have a package dropped off at your home by a back or side door instead of the front door. You can also choose to have your packages held at a carrier’s location so you can pick them up at a time convenient to your schedule.
If you do plan to be traveling during the holiday season, you may want to take a few steps to help prevent theft of your luggage. According to Consumer Reports, it may be a good idea to avoid using designer bags and opt for more basic-looking luggage so as not to draw attention to thieves. When going through security, make sure to be vigilant of watching your bag and grabbing it right away. Consumer Reports advises to not let your bag sit at the end of a conveyor belt when putting your shoes back on. You may also want to consider having the zippers of your bag face toward the inside of the overhead bin so it would be tricky for a thief to steal something if you’ve stepped away from your seat.
Taking a few more precautions during this time of year may help you to enjoy the holiday season with some extra peace of mind and happy cheer.
Originally published March 12, 2012.