Holiday safety tips
HOLIDAY SECURITY TIPS FROM GUARDHOUSE SECURITY SERVICES
Each year, according to the FBI, there are more than 40,000 burglaries reported in the months of November and December. Home intrusions, car break ins, muggings and cyber-theft are all part of the holiday season. But there are a number of measures you can take to protect your property – and yourself – during the holiday crime season.
Guardhouse Security Services, one of the largest privately owned residential and commercial security companies in Indiana, offers some helpful tips to prevent holiday theft. You can make your home, your car and your person less of a target, simply by thinking ahead.
"Most thieves are seeking the path of least resistance or easy pickings," says Mike Tuttle, co-owner of Guardhouse Security. "The good news is, it doesn't take a lot to make yourself less attractive as a target." To this end, Guardhouse suggests some simple guidelines, as outlined by the National Crime Prevention Council:
- Keep a low profile. Don't leave boxes at the curb that advertise big purchases like televisions or computers.
- Break down all boxes and dispose of them in garbage bags or bring them directly to your local recycling center.
- Leave a note for your delivery professionals to leave packages in inconspicuous locations.
- If you're not going to be home, even for a little while, ask if your neighbors can take in packages for you.
- Keep holiday finery like your good silver or china – and your newly opened holiday gifts – away from prying eyes.
- If you are traveling for the holidays, keep up appearances that you are home with timers on lights, keeping a radio playing, having your neighbors take in any mail or newspapers and even asking your neighbors to put out/take in your trash cans.
- Hire someone to shovel your driveway while you are away.
- Always alert your closest neighbors of your travel plans and provide them with current contact information.
- Your home is only as secure as your most vulnerable entry point. Use sturdy deadbolts on all your doors and a patio bar or small piece of lumber to secure sliding patio doors.
- Keep bushes trimmed around windows to eliminate hiding places for intruders.
- While you want your doors and windows secure, remember that you don't want them so secure that you can't quickly escape in case of fire or other emergency.
Finally, a monitored home security system is a must. Not only does your displaying of a security yard sign and window stickers deter thieves, if one is so bold as to ignore them, an audible alarm and immediate notification of you and local law enforcement makes it more likely that the thieves will not cause as much damage nor steal as much property as they could otherwise.
According to Jim Koschnick, Gua co-owner: "Like anything else, it all comes down to common sense. That, and a monitored alarm system that also protects your home and family from fire, smoke, carbon monoxide and other dangers, is an unbeatable combination."
But what about your security away from home? Guardhouse offers these additional National Crime Prevention Council tips:
At the store:
- Don't buy more than you can carry. Plan ahead by taking a friend with you or ask a store employee to help you carry your packages to the car.
- Save all receipts. Print and save all confirmations from your online purchases. Start a file folder to keep all receipts together and to help you verify credit card or bank statements as they come in.
- Keep your purse securely zipped and your wallet secure at all time.
- Wait until asked before taking out your credit card or checkbook. An enterprising thief would love to shoulder surf to get your account information.
- Inform a store employee or security guard if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies if you are using mass transit.
Walking to and from your car:
- Deter pickpockets. Carry your purse close to your body or your wallet inside a coat or front trouser pocket.
- Have your keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. Check the back seat and around the car before getting in.
- Do not leave packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home.
- Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone's computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed.
- Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to "verify" your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
- Beware of "bargains" from companies with whom you are unfamiliar—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or "https" in the URL address.
- Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.
"Again, this may all seem like common sense," says Koschnick. "But better safe than sorry."