When I was 10 years old someone stole my younger cousin’s bicycle just days before Christmas. Having received the bike as a birthday gift just a few months prior, the police told my aunt and uncle that it was unlikely they’d ever see the bike again as it would probably end up under someone’s Christmas tree clear across town. My cousin, of course, was crushed, but we learned a valuable lesson then– the holiday season is a special time of year for criminals who prefer stealing other people’s gifts over buying their own.
The Holidays Bring Out the Worst in Some
Seems no one is exempt from these crimes as each year the news is riddled with stories about churches and non-profit organizations accumulating truckloads of gifts for needy families only to have them stolen in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, clever holiday thieves also masquerade as the most unlikely of suspects, too. Who can forget Pastor Sandy McGriff who, in 2010, was accused of stealing expensive gifts from the home of one of her own church members? And just recently, Lisa Pickaree Woodard, a security guard for the Salvation Army, was caught red-handed as she stole gifts that the organization had collected for disadvantaged children. Guess that’s a good a place as any to start our holiday home security tips: Never trust anyone with access to your gifts. This includes housekeepers, maintenance workers, repair people and the like.
Other Holiday Home Security Tips Include:
Making Sure Packages Are Securely Received
If possible, have loved ones send holiday packages to an address where someone can physically receive them. This is particularly important if you work during the daytime when delivery drivers may be inclined to leave a package on your front porch. Some independent mailbox companies will agree to receive your packages if you rent a mailbox from them. Or you may want to request that packages be left at your homeowner’s association or management office, if possible. The bottom line is to avoid having packages left unattended after delivery.
Arm Your Security System at All Times
Whether you are at home or away, even if just running around the corner for a quick errand, keep your alarm system armed. Thieves are not opposed to walking right through your front door during broad daylight, especially at this time of year. Of course, back doors, windows and garages are also popular entry portals for criminals looking for a quick score. Being at home doesn’t always deter them, either. So, practice a heightened sense of security by making a habit of keeping your system armed and ready at all times– just in case.
Do Not Leave Items In Your Car
While it is a given that you should never leave things like MP3 players and mobile phones out in the open inside of your car when you park it, this rule also applies to other items such as packages and shopping bags. Going even further, however, do not even leave other personal items like jackets or books out in the open. Personally, I’ve had my car window broken by someone wanting to steal a cheap jacket I’d left in the back seat and, just recently, my son’s girlfriend’s window was broken by someone who stole a pair of shoes. Never underestimate what’s of value to a thief– especially at this time of year. Instead, lock everything in your trunk and move items to a safer location inside of your home or office as soon as possible.
Know Who’s Knocking
Some thieves will try to gain access to your home by simply asking to come inside. Of course, they pose as salespeople or even utility workers who need inspect your home for some reason or another. This approach may be used to stage a home-invasion robbery or may be the way that a clever criminal assesses the layout of your home. In a lot of cases, a knock on the door is how some criminals figure out who is at home during the day and who isn’t. The latter, of course, being who they will attempt to burglarize. The best way to deter such brazen burglars is to install surveillance cameras (fake cameras may even do the trick) in order to let criminals know that your eye is on them.
These tips should be applied year round, but especially during this holiday season. Think about it, this is the only time throughout the entire year when, collectively, we are the most likely to spend more than we normally would on expensive items like electronic gadgets, designer clothing, jewelry and other items of worth. For a burglar, this is likely his most profitable time of year since nearly every home has a collection of neatly wrapped items that he can either sell or pass on to someone on his own Christmas list.
What are some of your best home security tips for the holiday season?