Holiday theft prevention to help master the merriment.
The holiday season is supposed to be a time of traditions, togetherness and fun. We’re inclined to go a bit overboard trying to make the most of every minute of the season and to maximize the joy it’s supposed to hold. In our haste to embrace the spirit of the holidays, we can fall into a false sense of security and leave ourselves vulnerable to the Scrooges lurking in the shadows, waiting to mess with our merriment.
It seems that for every party, family gathering or cherished moment we are blessed with during the holiday season, you hear about schemes designed to take advantage as you celebrate and navigate your way through the hustle and bustle. Taking a few moments to protect yourself and your family will go a long way in avoiding a Nightmare Before Christmas.
If you’re traveling, put timers on a few lights in your house. Ask a neighbor to watch your house and turn on the front porch light at night. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway off and on during your time away. Have mail delivery stopped or ask the neighbor to hold it for you until you return
Always be aware of your surroundings when shopping, and park in a well-lit area. Lock your car and hide shopping bags and packages in the trunk. Carry a purse that can be held close to your body and carry a wallet either in your front pants pocket or inside your coat pocket, and minimize the amount of cash you carry. Know the numbers to call in case you lose your credit cards. And make sure your little ones know how to find a store clerk if you get separated.
Online shopping may be more convenient, but it can be just as dangerous, if not more. Protect you online shopping by:
- Look for the lock – Never buy anything from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption – at the very least. You can tell if a site has SSL when the site’s URL is HTTPS:// (instead of just HTTP://). An icon of a locked padlock should appear in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser or right next to the URL address in the address bar at the top of the page.
- Use familiar websites – Use a familiar website instead of a search engine result. Beware of websites with misspelled names or ones that don’t have a top-level domain, like .com or .net.
- Protect your information – On-line shopping websites don’t need your social security number or date of birth. The more information someone has about you, the easier it is to steal your identity. Supply as little information as possible to complete your transaction
Most people get package deliveries around the holidays. Protect yours by signing up to get delivery updates so you know when to expect a package. Ask a neighbor to retrieve your package once it’s delivered. You might consider having your packages delivered to work or take advantage of ship-to-store offers and pick up your order at your convenience.
After the packages have been opened be aware that burglars will be on the lookout for boxes stashed in plain view that may have contained expensive items, like computers, televisions or electronics. Leave boxes in your garage or somewhere they can’t be seen until the day of your garbage pickup.
Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. By doing something as simple as raising your level of awareness, you’ll be more likely to avoid having someone mess with your merriment and you’ll stick it to Scrooge in the process.
By Melissa Somers, Executive Director, CPP of SoCal
The Crime Prevention Program of Southern California (CPP) is a nonprofit organization working to prevent, combat and raise awareness of crime in the construction industry through education and sharing proven prevention measures. Founded in 1984, CPP serves as a liaison between the construction industry and law enforcement, working to facilitate productive communication and more effective reporting. For information on how you can join the CPP community contact Melissa Somers, Executive Director at (562) 860-9006 or Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we make a difference.