Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
We believe the holiday season should be one of joy. Whether you’re staying home or traveling this year, this article provides a list of tips for keeping your home safe during the holidays.
Test your alarm system to make sure it works. To do this, contact your monitoring company and let them know you want to do a test. Then, you’ll set off the alarm and let it sound for at least a minute. The alarm company will determine if they are getting the proper signal. If yes, then you’re alarm is working properly. If not, have them come out and determine what is wrong.
Many burglars prefer to break-in through an unlocked door or window. Make sure all of your doors are locked and dead-bolted and secure all of your windows, including those upstairs. Cutaway tree limbs to reduce the chance of easy entry.
If possible, have your landscaper (or one of your really nice neighbors) remove the snow from walkways and driveways while you’re away. This helps make it look like someone is at home. An alternative to this would be to leave a car parked in your driveway.
Keep your heat set at 55 degrees or higher to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze and cause flooding. Keeping your home safe doesn’t only mean keeping it safe from burglars. Natural disasters could be even more costly.
Do not post public messages on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media site letting people know that you will be out of town. Nothing is more inviting to a burglar than to know exactly when you’ll be out of town and for how long.
Be sure to have your mail, newspapers, and deliveries stopped or picked up by a neighbor, friend or relative. When the mail and newspapers are piled up at your front door, it is a clear sign that you are away.
Use automatic timers to operate interior lights and outdoor timers to operate your exterior holiday lights.
In more extreme burglary situations, intruders may try to kick in the door. Consider investing in a steel door, a reinforced door, or add additional deadbolts.
What Do Burglars Usually Steal?
Once inside your home, thieves will generally look for easy to remove valuables such as:
- Electronic equipment such as laptops, computers, tablets, phones, stereos, etc.
- Jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, etc.
- Cash, coins, savings bonds, etc.
- Credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, etc.
- Weapons such as guns, pistols, rifles, knives
Most burglars start by searching for the master bedroom because that is where most people tend to keep their valuables. They then move to other areas of the house as time permits.
Ideas for Concealing Your Valuables
The traditional method of concealing your valuables is to keep them in a safe. A safe is a great place, but it must be too heavy for the delinquents to remove from your home. If the safe is small enough to carry, they won’t waste time trying to gain access while in your home. They will simply pick it up, carry it with them, and figure out how to bust it open later.
A thief who enters a home is generally looking for a quick grab. They want to get in and get out before the police arrive. But, if they manage to get in without setting off an alarm, they aren’t any barking dogs, and no neighbors are watching, they may have plenty of time to look around inside your home. Anything that is left out in the open will be an easy steal.
So, if you really want to keep your valuables safe, you’ll need to out-think the bad guys. Consider putting valuable items in inconspicuous places such as the freezer, the fish tank, the toilet tank, the pantry, and other areas.
You may also consider purchasing hidden safes, also known as diversion safes. Hidden safes look like everyday products such as shampoo or shaving creme dispensers, soda cans, tissue boxes (the possibilities are endless), but they are actually safety storage containers with room to hide your valuables. We think these are a good idea, but steer clear of cheesy or fake looking products that might give your secret away.
Beware of “Casing”
Some would-be burglars will conduct surveillance on your home before they actually burglarize. One trick they like to pull is to visit your home and ask for some random person; or act like they are selling something, or simply conducting a survey. This is called casing. It gives them a chance to determine who lives in the home, whether or not they have pets, what their schedule might be, etc.
They may also try to associate the car in the driveway with the person who answers the door. That way, they know when that person is not at home. Also, they may take note if you have children or not, so they know when they are in school.
In addition, they will take the opportunity to assess your home, the type of car you drive, the furnishings they see in the house as you open the door, the jewelry and clothes you are wearing, etc. All of these things will tell them if you have enough money to make breaking and entering worthwhile.
What Deters Burglars and Thieves
- Home security systems with signs posted in the yard and stickers on windows
- Visible security cameras
- Bars on the windows and doors
- A car parked in the driveway
- Lights, preferably with TVs and radios on. Thieves know that most people leave on lights when they leave their home, so leaving the front porch light and a few inside lights may not deter a criminal. However, TVs and radios will make them think twice and move to the next house.
- A well-populated neighborhood with a lot of neighbors watching. In addition, it is important to have your house be visible to others, so make sure you keep your trees and bushes trimmed, which minimizes places for thugs to conceal their movements.
- Pets, especially barking dogs. Large breed dogs are the best. Not only do dogs pose a physical danger to the intruder, but their barking could also draw attention from neighbors.
What To Do If Your Home Is Burglarized
Having your home burglarized is a very traumatic experience for anyone. In the aftermath of the home invasion, you may not be thinking clearly. Here are a few recommendations for what you should do following a break-in:
- The first thing you should do is determine whether the person(s) might still be in your home. If there is any doubt as to whether your home is not safe, get yourself and your family out there. Go to a neighbors house, or get in the car and drive away to a safe location.
- Call the police immediately. Tell them your home has been burglarized and that you need the police to be dispatched as soon as possible. Provide the dispatcher with your address and any other relevant information that might be helpful for her to relay to the responding officer.
- If an alarm was set off, call or respond to your alarm monitoring company. They can dispatch law enforcement to your location if necessary.
- Don’t touch anything in the house. Leave everything as-is for the police to inspect. After the police have evaluated the situation and completed their report, it would be a good idea to take photos of everything for insurance purposes.
- In some cases, the police may dust for fingerprints to see if they can match any prints
- Contact your neighbors and let them know what happened. Their house may be next, so they will need to be on the lookout.
Those who are interested in breaking the law are getting smarter every day. So, to stay ahead of them, you’ll have to think as they do. Use these tips to keep yourself, your family and your home safe during the holidays and throughout the year.
If you have any additional tips for keeping Your Home Safe, please leave a comment below and we’ll add it to the list.
Learn about other types of self-defense equipment and devices.
List of Holiday Shopping Safety Tips
Following is a helpful list of holiday shopping safety tips to help keep yourself, your possessions and your family safe during the holidays.
While the holidays give us a chance to enjoy festivities with family and friends, they also pose a greater opportunity for an increase in crime-related activities. Law enforcement statistics show that there is an increase in theft this time of year as more and more people flock to the malls and shopping centers searching for gifts and other needs. Even the least professional thief, who may or may not have an arrest record, knows how to spot a potential theft target in a shopping arena.
Customers who are clued in to what a thief looks for and who practice preventive measures stand the best chance at thwarting off a robbery attempt or possibly other types of harm.
If at all possible, do your shopping during daylight hours. Law enforcement experts say that theft and other crimes are less likely to occur during daylight hours.
Go shopping with a friend or family member. Try to stay together during your entire shopping excursion and try not to get separated. Criminals and thieves are more likely to steal from or attack people who are alone. There is safety in numbers. If you must go shopping alone, be sure to let a family member or friend know where you are at all times.
Dress comfortably. Avoid wearing expensive or flashy jewelry. Thieves are more likely to steal what they can see.
If possible, leave your purse or wallet at home and carry only the necessary items. Carry only your driver’s license or other forms of personal I.D., along with any necessary cash and credit cards you need to make purchases.
Keep your cash in a front pocket, or possibly an inside zipped pocket of a jacket. This is also a secure place to carry your credit cards. It is easier for pickpockets and thieves to steal something from your back pockets.
If you must carry a purse or wallet, remain extra vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Criminals target unattended purses sitting in shopping carts, both inside the store and as you’re loading your items in your car.
Always remain alert in regard to the people around you and to your surroundings. If you think someone is watching and/or following you, (or you have reason to believe someone else may be targeted, such as an elderly or disabled person) alert security personnel right away. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Keep your cellphone in a handy pocket but do not distract yourself, or allow others to distract you, with texting, talking, or other things that interfere with keeping your focus. Talking on your phone while walking to your car opens the door for a thief to grab your cell phone, purse or packages. Carry your cellphone for emergency purposes only.
Keep a heavy quilt or tarp in your vehicle and use it to cover your newly purchased items, or lock them in your trunk. Locking items in your trunks keeps them out of view. Thieves target cars where items are within plain view and can be easily grabbed. Breaking into a car’s trunk is not easy and will be bypassed by criminals in most cases.
Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Con-artists employ various methods to distract you in attempts to take your money or belongings. While not everyone who approaches you is a thief, it pays to be suspicious and therefore be prepared for the unexpected.
Don’t post your location status on social media. While this might let friends and family members know where you are, it also lets potential thieves know that you aren’t at your home. This presents the perfect opportunity to break into your home and steal your belongings.
If you should become an unfortunate victim of theft during your holiday shopping, try to remain calm and contact your local law enforcement immediately. If you are inside a mall or department store, or if the incident occurs in the parking lot, be sure to notify mall security and/or management of the incident.
When talking to management or to the police officer, give an accurate account of the crime, including:
- Give a thorough description of the person (or persons) who committed the theft. Try to be as thorough as possible. Give details on their sex, approximate height and weight, skin color, hair color, eye color, and clothing. Mention any special features you may have noticed such as scars, tattoos, accents, etc.
- Note what time the crime took place (to the best of your knowledge).
- Explain where you were when it took place, and when you discovered items were missing (if you were not accosted in person).
- Explain the items that were stolen.
The more accurate information you can give, the greater the chances police can find and arrest the criminal(s) and possibly retrieve your things. If items were stolen from you, learn how to search for stolen items in the FBI Stolen Articles File.
Questions and Comments
If you have any questions about this list of holiday shopping safety tips or keeping your home safe, or if you have suggestions for the list, please leave a comment below. See also, a list of tips for Halloween safety.