By Catherine Powell
Everyone is familiar with the Dr. Seuss story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. While a work of fiction, the phenomenon of having one’s Christmas presents stolen is all too real. To help you keep from having your holiday spirit deflated, I thought I’d take the time to give you ten tips that are guaranteed to thwart the thieves who prey on holiday shoppers.
Merry Mall Miscreants – At this time of year, shopping malls abound with stores, crowds, and thieves. That means you have to be doubly cautious when you do your holiday shopping.
1. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers work to relieve you of your cash by getting close enough to reach into your pocket, bag or open purse when you’re in a large crowd. They have also been known to swipe presents right out of your hand only to make a quick getaway. Sometimes working singly but more often in pairs, one thief will distract you while his or her accomplice makes off with your goods, wallet or purse. To thwart these thieves, you need to be aware of who’s paying attention to you while you shop and when you head to the parking lot. Also, it’s better to carry your wallet in your front pants pocket or a zipped jacket pocket, since this makes it harder for any pickpocket to grab. If you carry a purse, make sure it’s closed and the strap is draped over your shoulder with your arm over it. This makes it nearly impossible to snatch from your grasp without a struggle, which is the last thing a purse snatcher wants.
2. Food Court Felons can eat your lunch while you eat your lunch. This means you should never place your bags on the floor next to you or atop the table in easy reach of passersby. If you choose to dine al fresco, the best place to stash your gifts is under the table out of reach of food court felons.
3. Backseat Bandits can and will steal the presents right out of your backseat, even if it means smashing your side window to get at them. That’s why you always need to put your presents in the trunk. If you have a hatchback, cover your gifts with a blanket so they can’t be seen.
Home is where the heist is. – Just as Cindy-Lou Who found out on Christmas morning, thieves won’t think twice about entering your home to ruin your day.
4. Porch Pirates troll the highways and byways at this time of year while waiting for the right moment to steal packages right off your porch. To keep from being victimized, you need to take a few precautions. You can buy a lockbox or bag that allows delivery drivers to do their thing while keeping thieves from snatching your gifts. You can also choose to have packages delivered to someplace other than your front door. Every big box store will let you pick up items purchased online at their retail location. Amazon offers HUBLockers, which provide self-service kiosks that are strategically located in numerous locations. You can also request signature service for expensive items that require a delivery driver to have you sign for a package instead of depositing it on your doorstep.
5. Daylight robbery is at an all-time high during the holiday shopping season, particularly when thieves don’t have to break into your home to make off with some swag. If you park your car in your driveway and leave the trunk open while you carry in a load of gifts, don’t be surprised if you return to find out that thieves have lightened your load. That means you should close the trunk until you return if you want to keep light-fingered looters at bay.
6. Sidewalk Snatchers are thieves who cruise neighborhoods looking for anything of value sitting on or near the sidewalk. Items like bicycles, kid’s toys, and even holiday lights can be snatched from your yard so fast that you’ll never know what hit you. The way to make it hard on these thieves is to make sure you tell the kids to bring in their toys and to firmly anchor any holiday displays.
7. Garage Grabbers are thieves who make off with goods by taking them right out of your garage, even when it’s locked. You’d be surprised how easy it is for a thief to gain access to a garage both day and night. While the easiest heist is done to those who fail to promptly close their garage doors, it’s not all that difficult to break in through a window or use a bent coat hangar to engage the emergency release on an automatic garage door opener. The best way to defeat these bad boys is to make sure you close and lock your garage door securely before you nod off for the night.
8. Dumpster Divers don’t steal your gifts. They’re after your credit card numbers. If you fail to shred credit card offers and bills before tossing them in the trash, don’t be surprised if low tech thieves buy themselves something nice with your credit cards.
9. Front Door Fiends aren’t afraid of walking right in your front door to help themselves to your possessions. One of their favorite modus operandi is for thieves to target house parties since it’s all too easy to slip in and out of a home full of guests. A few years ago, a professional team of thieves made headlines by targeting the rich and famous who they knew would have their burglar alarms turned off while the party was in full swing.
10. Make it easy to file a claim if you do get hit. That means making sure your homeowner’s policy is up to date and you have proof of ownership. One reason a claim can be denied is if you can’t prove you owned an item that was stolen. That’s where receipts and photos of items are worth their weight in gold. So, snap before you wrap to keep the Grinch from having the last laugh.
Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more ways to save on flood insurance, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsuranceinc.com/