This may be a sort of random topic for a personal finance blog, but I thought it would be important to share this friendly reminder for the Holiday season. For whatever reason, crime always goes up during this time of year – more needs, more opportunity, who knows? I can speak to this first hand, because I was burglarized a few years ago, and it was around the first week of December when it happened. That's why I want to share some common sense tips that can help keep you safe!
Keep Your House Secure
The first step to staying safe this holiday season is to keep your house secure. This means making sure that you're actually locking all doors and windows. You wouldn't believe how many people go door to door during the day and just check to see if the doors or windows are open. Don't give burglars any easy ways into your house.
Also, if you won't be home by nightfall, I recommend setting up some lights to go on with a timer, so it looks like you're home. You can also set a TV or radio on a timer, so that it sounds like someone is home as well. Burglars won't usually come near a house if they think someone is home.
Finally, understand that you can't prevent everything, but you can prepare for the unexpected. In my case, we had a drug addict kick in our front door (which was locked and dead-bolted). There wasn't much we could have done to prevent it. All they took was jewelry, which wasn't even worth that much. But we were prepared and had a home inventory so we could tell the officers exactly what was stolen.
While At The Mall
Most of us will be spending quite a bit of time at the mall over the next few weeks. This is a criminal's paradise! With huge crowds, and people who aren't “regulars”, there are lots of opportunities to be a victim.
The first thing you should do at the mall is check your car when you park. Ensure that all your valuables are out of sight (leave them home or put them in the trunk). Also, make sure that you lock your doors. Once again, there are people who roam the parking lots of malls just looking for cars left unlocked.
When you're in the store, make sure that you keep your valuables with you. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a woman put her purse in the upper part of the shopping cart, and then leave the cart unattended while she was shopping several racks, or even aisles, away. Too many people get their purses and phones stolen by doing this. Just keep your valuables on you.
Burglars are just looking for the Christmas travelers. Don't give yourself away by letting the newspaper and mail pile up. Either have someone come by and check in everyday, or setup a stop mail and stop paper order for the times you're gone.
Also, don't mention that you're going to be away on social media, like Facebook or Twitter. Wait until you get back to post pictures of your vacation. Burglars are now watching for status updates to let them know when people are out of town. By saying “Can't wait to fly to New York for 2 weeks” on your Facebook page, you're basically telling the burglars it's open season on your house. Don't believe it? Crime Stoppers did a study on it and 4 out of 5 burglars are now using social media for this very reason.
How else can you stay safe this holiday season?