Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, shoppers head to stores (in large numbers) to buy their gifts for the holidays. Unfortunately, the season is also an ideal time for thieves to take advantage of holiday shoppers. Because consumers spend so much on gifts, they become irresistible targets for thieves. Luckily, with the right steps, there are ways that consumers can protect their holiday haul. Here are 10 Tips to Protect Your Holiday Gifts from Thieves!
Holiday Safety Tips
1. When you leave a store, you must pay attention to your surroundings outside. Look out for anyone suspicious. If you notice someone following you or making you feel uncomfortable, go back inside the store and alert security. Reporting questionable people hanging around the shop might also protect other shoppers from getting robbed.
2. Once you get to your car, lock your purchases in your trunk. If you have an SUV, consider installing a retractable cargo cover to hide items from view. Don’t ever leave any items or sacks out in the open in your car. Thieves often look for targets of opportunity (something easy to steal). A smash-and-grab (breaking your car window and stealing from your car) is an easy target for thieves. In fact, this is one of the most common types of thefts throughout the entire year.
3. Shoppers face another risk on their drive home. Every year there are stories of people following shoppers home and robbing them in their driveway. That’s why you should try to pay attention to anyone that looks like they are following you. Call the police if you think someone is following you home.
4. Many consumers do a lot of their holiday shopping online. That means a lot of packages get delivered to homes. Thieves will drive around neighborhoods during the day looking for packages outside of homes to steal. Make sure someone is at home to receive any deliveries. However, if no one is at home, arrange to get your packages at work.
5. Many people mail gifts to friends and family members. Unfortunately, since so many packages get delivered during the holiday season, some packages end up getting damaged or stolen. Depending on the delivery carrier, packages might be insured up to a certain amount. However, if you are mailing an expensive item, you should pay extra to have it fully insured. That way if the package gets damaged or stolen, you aren’t out the money.
Porch pirates are responsible for roughly $20 million dollars worth of theft every year in the United States alone.
6. If you buy expensive gifts, be careful how you dispose of their empty boxes. Thieves might see those boxes outside your house and interpret them as signals of recent purchases that would make breaking into your home worthwhile. Therefore, you should wait until trash day to throw out any boxes.
7. You shouldn’t just throw away shopping receipts in the trash. If thieves go through your trash and find your receipts, they can see what you have recently bought. That might give them another incentive to break into your home. Shred your receipts before throwing them away.
8. Burglars will sometimes visit homes before breaking into them (as a way to scope them out). Be cautious with any strangers that show up at your door, and never let a stranger come inside your house.
9. Many homeowners like to show off their Christmas tree and decorations to their neighborhood. Unfortunately, this is another way for thieves to see the presents inside your house. If your Christmas tree is visible from outside your home, don’t put a lot of gifts under it. That just gives thieves a greater temptation to break into your home.
10. Lastly, talk to your neighbors about being vigilant during the holiday season. Everyone can agree to report any suspicious activity in the neighborhood. That way if someone tries to break into your home while you are gone, a neighbor might notice and call the police.
In short, the holiday season is a busy time for shoppers, most of whom already have a lot on their minds. Unfortunately, many don’t realize how much they are at risk of getting robbed. If you are carrying heavy shopping bags in a parking lot, you can be an easy target for thieves, and leaving items laying out in your car presents another opportunity.
Be mindful that anything in the mail could get damaged or stolen, so you should consider adding insurance to deliveries. Also, remember that your home can become a target for thieves, so be discreet about high-end purchases. By following the above holiday safety tips, you can help keep your holiday crime free.