Nothing will put a damper on your holiday spirit faster than finding your car and all the Christmas gifts in it have been stolen while you were sipping an Egg Nog latte. Maybe ‘tis the season to jolly for most of us, but for thieves,‘tis the season to steal. Follow these tips and you won’t be their next victim. (You won’t have to file a claim on your car insurance, either.)
The bad guys count on you being rushed, preoccupied and otherwise distracted. Keep in mind that thieves are not particularly ambitious. They’re looking for an easy mark, not the biggest challenge. Easy marks do stupid, thoughtless things because their minds are elsewhere. The easiest marks leave their keys in car…with it running. Always turn off your car and take your keys with you when you leave your car, even if its only for a few seconds. Plenty of cars are stolen from home driveways while the driver is unloading packages. Plenty of cars are stolen from gas stations while the driver goes inside to pay.
Easy marks don’t lock their cars. They leave valuables in plain site. Kind of like shouting, “Hey, Mr. Thief, look over here. Lots of great expensive gear in this car.” Always lock your car and engage whatever anti-theft device you have installed. Put valuables and packages in the trunk. If you don’t have a trunk, keep a heavy blanket or piece of canvas in your car and cover up the valuables. Thieves are less likely to break-in on the chance that they’ll find something good hidden under that cover. They’ll look for an easier, surer mark.
Lock all your doors and keep your windows rolled up while you’re driving. Stow your packages in your trunk or on the floor in the back seat. Put your purse, laptop, briefcase, etc. on the floor, too. That way, if you’re stopped in traffic at a light, you won’t be an easy mark for the thief who wanders up to cars and grabs purses or valuables off the passenger seat by opening the door or reaching through an open window.
Pay the extra few bucks to park in a secure, well-lit parking garage or lot, preferably one with a real human attendant. If you have to leave your car with a valet, only give them your car key. It’s too easy to have house keys duplicated and to learn your address from the auto registration in your glove box. While you’re enjoying a two hour movie or leisurely dinner, someone could be burglarizing your home. In fact, take that same precaution anytime you have to turn your vehicle over to a stranger, say at the car wash or service station. Most people are honest, but your job is not to be an easy mark for the dishonest few.