The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and that means vehicle break-in crimes are too. People are shopping, carrying around credit cards and cash, and parked cars are criminal targets while their owners are distracted. Here are eight tips to help minimize your risk of a bah-hum-bug break-in.
- Don’t advertise! Never leave bags, purses, wallets, briefcases, laptops, cell phones, loose change, or anything that may be of value to a thief in plain view. Hide any cords that may indicate you have an electronic stashed in your car too.
- Don’t add fuel to the fire! Leaving garage door openers, house keys or work keys in your car is like an encore for thieves. These items get the criminal into your home, office or hotel for an even bigger heist.
- Don’t assume your trunk is safe! Locking items in your trunk may be more secure than the back seat, but doing so in plain view only tells the thief where to look. If you absolutely must take valuables with you, lock them in the trunk before you reach your destination.
- Don’t assume your glovebox is safe either! Never leave credit cards, identification or personal information in your glove box. The box itself is generally flimsy and the locks are easy to break. It’s also a prime target for thieves, especially in the south where people don’t actually use the glovebox for gloves.
- Don’t forget to lock it up! It sounds simple, but many people in their holiday rush forget to simply lock their vehicle. Before leaving your car, always check that your windows are closed. Lock the doors and set an alarm if you have one. This also applies to garages and carports as well. Close them up. And if your home has a security system, arm it.
- Don’t keep your vehicle in the dark! Dim and unlit areas make it easier for crooks to spend time breaking in. If your car is parked near your house, leave your exterior lights on throughout the night. You can also switch to a motion detector unit or flood light. Lights make the thief more visible, and motion detectors turning on can fool a thief into thinking they’ve been seen.
- Don’t park in bad areas! You want a clear line of sight to your vehicle from all directions. If you park on the street, choose a spot under the street lamp. Avoid bushes or trees that block your view. Look out for large objects like dumpsters, vans or trailers between you and your car. Also, try not to keep your vehicle parked in the same spot for long periods of time- a sure sign that you are away.
- Don’t let hesitation beat you! Stay observant when entering and exiting your vehicle. Make note of your surroundings and activity in the area. Report any suspicious activity, however innocent the person’s true intention may be, to security or your local police.
If your vehicle is an unfortunate victim, contact authorities immediately. If the crime is in progress, take note (or photos!) of the suspects, vehicles, and activities and call 9-1-1. We hope you have a safe and crime-free holiday season!