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Safety should be a holiday tradition, too

Celebrants and shoppers annually spend billions of dollars during the holiday season. With so much money exchanging hands, it is imperative for shoppers and revelers to use caution to avoid incidents that can put a damper on such a festive time of year.

Though many people who look forward to the holiday season for all the right reasons, there are some who see this time of year as a prime opportunity to prey on the generosity or distraction Christmas brings. Thieves know that the holidays can be hectic, and they use this to their advantage, knowing full well people tend to store high-priced items in their homes during this time of the year. Heeding certain safety tips during the holidays can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Stagger shopping times

Being a creature of habit may not be advantageous come the holidays. Oftentimes, potential burglars monitor neighborhoods to see when residents come and go. It can take mere minutes for a thief to get into a home and then abscond with valuables.

Creating a situation where there is always someone home or at least the appearance that someone is home might dissuade a thief from targeting your home. When you venture out to shop, do so at different times so you’re not establishing a recognizable pattern that gives a thief a sense of security and a perfect window of time to break in.

Triple-check your home

Security experts warn that most burglaries occur during daytime hours when homes are empty. The main point of entry is on the ground floor via a rear or a side door. Access through a garage door is another common way thieves gain access to a home.

Before leaving the house, make sure that all doors and windows are locked and that the garage door cannot be opened. Many times thieves are able to simply enter a home through an unlocked window. The key is to make it as difficult as possible for a burglar to get inside your home.

Running out of the home for parties, shopping and other social events could derail safety precautions. If need be, leave a checklist by the front door to remind you to safeguard the home before exiting.

Park in well-lit areas

Cars are prime targets for burglaries. Many times shoppers visit the car frequently during shopping excursions and store gifts in the trunk, only to return for more shopping. Thieves recognize there may be a bounty of merchandise inside.

First and foremost, all items in the car should be stored out of sight to deter interest in your vehicle. Secondly, make sure that the car is locked and that the security system (if there is one) is engaged, as merchandise in a car is not often covered by standard auto insurance policies. In addition, park as close as you can to the store entrance or beneath a bright light. Poor visibility encourages thieves.

Watch your wallet

Cash is a very attractive prospect for thieves because it is largely untraceable and easily spent. While shoppers who want to curb high credit card bills might favor cash, it is important not to carry too much around. Spread out purchases over a few days so that you do not have to carry large quantities of cash.

When using an ATM at the mall or at the bank, always be aware of your surroundings, including fellow customers. It may be worth paying multiple service fees to withdraw small amounts of cash rather than withdrawing a large amount of money that thieves can target.

Remove extraneous credit cards when shopping. Should your wallet be stolen or go missing, this will eliminate the number of accounts that thieves can use and also cuts down on the number of accounts that need to be closed out. You should never carry your social security card in your wallet because this increases your risk of being victimized by identity theft.

Request to sign for packages

Many shipping carriers have eliminated the need for package recipients to sign for merchandise. Recipients can now choose to have boxes and bags left outside the front door. To decrease the risk of theft, always choose to sign for packages, regardless of how safe your neighborhood may be.