Yes, Its that time of year again...
WHAT!, I just paid off my credit cards!
Like it or not the holidays are fast approaching! Cold nip in the air, shopping, smells of our favorite foods cooking, relaxing with old and new friends, listening
to holiday music, oh and one more thing, criminals a lurking!. Nothing faster will take the holiday spirit out of you or your family than being a victim of a crime over the holiday season, Ho Ho Ho! Not so funny when it happens to you. Nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the U.S. from November through December each year, according to the FBI. With a few simple steps and some awareness you can help avoid being the victim of these senseless holiday crimes.
Its no secret to criminals that the odds of finding a Christmas tree in your home with gifts all around are a good bet during the holiday season. Many people like to display their Christmas tree in the front picture window of their home but it's more of an invitation than a good idea. Unfortunately many homes will be broken into over the holiday season, so what can we do?
1. Get an monitored alarm system installed or if you have one make sure you use it. You can call your alarm company and have them put the system on test so you can set it off to make sure its in working order. Make sure your children understand how to arm and disarm the system if they are the first ones home. If you have pets there are pet motion detectors that allow the pets the run of the house but will detect human size movement quite well.
2. Windows are the weakest point in your home as the glass can easily be broken. Install
window locks and anti-lift out devices. These are typically easy to install. Window
security bars can be installed over your windows but they make your home look like a prison. Homeowners typically install the bars in extreme situations only.
Also a properly installed alarm system will detect an intruder entering through a window. You could opt to have glass break sensors added to your alarm system that detects breaking glass which sets the alarm off.
3. Install double sided deadbolts on your doors that have glass or a window next to the door. Glass in doors and windows next to doors make it easy for criminals to break the glass and open the lock. Doors with only knob or lever locks can be easily pried open. Deadbolts, on the other hand, offer double the locking security and require much more brute force to break in. Equip each of your entry doors with a deadbolt, not just the high-traffic ones. Your home is only as secure as its most vulnerable entry point. Another benefit of having double sided deadbolts installed on your doors is that if someone breaks in through a window they will typically need to exit by the same window because they cannot open the door. This also limits what an intruder may be able to take. The intruder will usually break the smallest window to keep the noise to a minimum. One thing about double sided deadbolts; don't leave the key in the inside cylinder of the lock. If you are leaving the home, remove the keys from the lock. At night for safety sake put the key back in the lock making it easier to
exit in an emergency.
4. You may not be spending the holidays at home this year. If you're traveling ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house. A house that looks like no one is home is very inviting. Make an appearance as if you are home. Leave the lights on when you're away. Set up lights on timers so they come on and off during the night time. Have the neighbor pick up the mail or newspaper or you can have delivery of the mail and newspaper stopped for the period of time your away. You can also let your local Police Department know that you'll be away from your home over the holidays. Make sure they know the details like, when you expect to return, that you've asked a neighbor to keep an eye on your house, the lights on timers, how many cars are in the driveway, on Wednesday afternoon the gardeners will be mowing the yards, etc. Leave a phone number where you can be contacted and where you'll be staying.
5. Holiday package deliveries have always been easy pickings for the thief. Although UPS drivers are trained to leave packages in inconspicuous places where they cannot be seen from the street and out of the weather does not guarantee they will not be taken. However there are other things you can consider.
a. Choose a shipping option that requires you to
sign for a
b. Check on the package's delivery status online
can try to be home when it arrives.
c. Leave a note asking the delivery service to leave the
package with a
d. Have the package shipped to another location where someone can receive
it, like your office or a friend's home.
e. Ask the delivery service to hold your package for customer pick-up.
f. UPS is offering a service called My Choice, which will alert people by
voice mail, text or e-mail when their package will be dropped off. Here is a
File a theft report immediately if you think your package was stolen, and contact your credit card company to find out if it offers a purchase-protection service that might reimburse you for the stolen merchandise.
6. Avoid leaving packages exposed in your car while out shopping. Put the packages in the trunk if you have one or if you have a SUV put them in the back and use the retracting cover that is made to hide the contents in the back. If these are not options for you take a blanket to cover purchases or put smaller packages on the back seat floor where it's hard to see what's down there. During the holiday season most larger malls will hire extra security to patrol the parking lots.
At some malls, they have people on
binoculars and when
they see something
radio to the ground patrol to i
Getting to the mall early to get close
in parking will help
away from your car. Parking
a popular place for
thieves, provided the structure
not have security cameras, to look into
easier for them to conceal their
Once they have
your packages they look just
everyone else walking to
their cars carrying gifts.
Once you have made your
purchases, keep the
with you and not in
the bag with merchandise.
thief is stopped and
can show a receipt that
merchandise its likely they
will be let go. If
other hand they cannot
produce a receipt its
likely they will be detained and security will look around
the area for cars that show a sign of being broken into
if they suspect the
merchandise was taken from a
7. Large retail stores will hire seasonal help to better serve their customers, but these temporary workers know that at the end of the holiday season that they will lose their job. While most of these temporary workers are hardworking honest people there will be a few that are looking for more than just their paycheck. They may take advantage of your credit card information. If you hand someone your credit card to make a purchase that gives them the opportunity to collect the information on the card. This is done by using an easily concealed credit card skimmer that will collect the information on your card so they can retrieve it at a later time. Even if they don't have your PIN number they can use your information to open other credit card accounts to charge to.
Some purchases can be made using only your card number and the expiration date. Other purchases will require the security code and/or a PIN number. Reconcile your monthly statement to make sure all purchases are yours. Report any errors immediately to your credit card company. On some credit cards you can opt to be notified when a purchase goes over a specified amount. When a purchase is over that amount you'll almost instantaneously get an email or text message saying that a purchase was made exceeding the dollar amount you specified. It will also tell you the amount of the purchase.
This is a quick way to correcting unauthorized charges and stopping any future unauthorized purchases. If you're sure its not your charge, call the credit card company immediately.
When setting a dollar amount keep in mind that anything under that amount you set you will not be notified. This isn't a perfect way to be assured you'll catch someone charging to your credit card. Ten $25.00 charges is $250.00 so check your credit card statement often. If you have access to your account online, check your account there to look for unauthorized charges. Contact your credit card company for additional information. I personally have a dollar amount set on my American Express Card and I got contacted with an $1,800.00 charge. I called immediately, they investigated and captured the guy, he used my card to purchase some large custom made hanging banners to advertise his company! So sometimes the good guys wins.
8. Report any suspicious person or persons hanging around your neighborhood. People will pose as door to door salesmen offering some services, usually not a product. They go house to house collecting information. Did someone answer the door, is there a dog in the house, is there an alarm system they can see. Sometimes they go through the neighborhood more than once but at different times to see if anything has changed from the first time they went through. This is all done to target a house for a potential robbery.
Other criminals will follow a UPS truck into neighborhoods looking to see where they delivered packages. Once the UPS driver delivers the packages and drives away they make a quick grab of the packages he just delivered and beats it out of the neighborhood. It's a reasonable risk for them! They don't care too much if someone sees them because they don't plan to return to the neighborhood anytime soon. Report any suspicious people in your neighborhood immediately and if you get a look at their car, give that description to the Police as well. Once the criminals sees the neighborhood is being patrolled they will usually move on because they really do not want to get caught, especially when there are too many other neighborhoods not being patrolled.
9. The way you decorate the outside of your home speaks volumes about the holiday spirit of the people who live there. The fancy decorations, hundreds of lights, animation; you know the house and when they get done it's beautiful and a joy to look at! Criminals see that and think to themselves if these people are decorating the outside of their house like this, than the inside of their house must be something spectacular too. And spectacular in this case usually means money is involved. And if they have money to spend on decorating to that extent than they have money to purchase nicer gifts. So the house becomes a bigger target. If you had a choice of only one house to break into which one would you pick? The house with a single row of lights following the roof line or the house that's all decorated up and cars are slowing down as they pass by to see the display. What house do you think the criminal would see as having a better payoff? We're not indicating not to decorate but just be aware of the fact that your home could be more of a target than others in the area. Just take the proper security precautions and all should be fine.
10. Most people enjoy the holiday seasons but we all get very busy and in a hurry. Just be aware of your surroundings, try to slow down as much as possible, take breaks, and organize your thoughts. Don't rush out of the house and leave the front door unlocked or the garage open, assign tasks to older children who can help you get things done. Have your gifts wrapped at the stores, even amazon has a gift wrapping service. Above all make time for yourself to enjoy the holidays...you deserve it!
Comlock Security Group