While the holiday season is a time for celebrating with family and friends, it’s also a peak time for break-ins. All of this holiday cheer can serve as the perfect distraction for opportunistic thieves looking to cash in.
An FBI study found that more than 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States during the months of November and December each year. Thieves know that many homes and cars are filled with big-ticket gifts and homeowners are busy shopping, traveling and visiting loved ones.
If someone from Santa’s naughty list strikes, make sure your home and family are protected with the proper Homeowners Insurance coverages and by taking some simple precautions.
Tips for Preventing Holiday Break-Ins at Home
- Keep holiday gifts and packages hidden from view and close your shades so thieves can’t window shop at your home.
- Always lock all doors and windows even when leaving your home for a short period of time.
- Keep a record of all of credit card numbers and issuer information in a safe or locked place at your home. Notify your credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or if you suspect fraudulent activity. Ask your agent about adding optional Identity Fraud Expense Coverage to your policy to help recover costs should you become a victim of identity fraud.
- Be sure to break down any boxes and discard them in black trash bags so potential thieves can’t see what gifts you received. Nothing excites a thief more than seeing that empty 60” flat screen TV box sitting on your curb on trash day.
- Be sure to leave spare keys with a neighbor rather than hiding them outside. Burglars know all of the usual hiding places or they can easily figure them out by keeping a close watch on your home.
- Beware when strangers knock at your door. Criminals may pose as couriers delivering gifts or pretend to be solicitors requesting donations for fake charitable causes. Ask for identification or information about the charity or company they claim to be representing.
- Don’t advertise that you have left the house — even just for a few hours. Never leave a note on the door announcing when you plan to return for deliveries. If you expect packages to arrive while you’re out, ask a neighbor to collect them for safekeeping or ask the courier to deliver the boxes straight to their house. Be sure not to broadcast your whereabouts on social media.
- If you live in an apartment or condominium building, ensure the locks on building doors are working properly, make sure your balconies and windows are secure, and notify building security or superintendents if you plan to be away for an extended period of time.
- Once the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, take time to evaluate your gifts and determine whether you’re adequately insured.
Don’t Fall Victim to a Vehicle “Smash-and-Grab”
Did you know that if items are stolen from a vehicle, your homeowners coverage may apply? Ask your agent for details about your policy. To reduce the chances of a “smash-and-grab” theft:
- If possible, park your vehicle in your garage and close your garage door before unloading any packages.
- If you are unable to park your vehicle in a garage, be sure to lock your doors when taking packages into and out of your house or car. Do not leave your keys, garage door opener, valuables or items with personal information in plain view. If you must leave belongings in your car, be sure to lock them in your trunk or ensure they are hidden from view.
- When shopping or visiting family and friends, always park your vehicle in a well-lit, visible area.
- If your garage door opener has a keypad, be sure to change your passcode frequently. Burglars can easily detect your passcode by looking at which numbers are worn on the keypad.
Traveling During the Holidays? Don’t let your home be a target!
Empty houses are prime targets for thieves during the holiday season, but you can fool them into thinking you’re still home by hiding the signs of vacancy with these simple tips:
- A quiet house is a prime target for thieves. If possible, leave lights and a radio turned on or set indoor, outdoor and holiday lights to an automatic timer so burglars can’t tell when you are away.
- If you are traveling for the holidays and plan to be away from your home for an extended period of time, ask a neighbor or friend to watch your house and pick up your newspapers, mail and deliveries.
- Don’t post your travel plans on social media and advertise that you’re away.
- Perform a quick home security check and make any necessary updates before you leave to ensure your home is fully protected.
Creating accurate records of possessions in advance will be very helpful in the event that a theft claim is filed. This should include a home inventory that lists items, their age, and original cost. Taking photos or videos of the contents of the home are also great ways to document one’s personal property. Find more great tips on how to create a home inventory and links to useful apps for tracking your belongings from your smartphone or mobile device on our website at https://www.centauriinsurance.c
Taking these simple precautions along with investing in the right insurance coverages can help take some of the stress out of the holiday season and provide peace of mind. If you have questions regarding your policies and coverages, please contact your agent.