While the holiday season is sometimes thought to be the happiest time of the year, full of family time, gift-giving, and delicious meals, there is often a darker element that comes along with it that can just as quickly put a damper on those high spirits – the routine increase in crime.
Halloween has passed, and thereby so has the day most popular for auto thefts, according to Inilex, provider of GPS products and tracking systems, who says 2,328 vehicle thefts occurred on Halloween in 2011, the latest year with available data.
But while Halloween has come and gone, lying ahead are such holidays as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, in which criminals are looking to seize any opportunity to take advantage of the hustle and bustle that can leave unsuspecting individuals vulnerable.
While the holidays are about giving, criminals see it as an opportunity for taking. Thieves know shoppers are carrying more money on them during the holiday season, creating a higher likelihood for robberies to occur.
People are also buying gifts and driving more, a combination that can prove risky if not approached in a cautious manner.
Thieves are known to follow shoppers after they’ve made expensive purchases, wait until they enter another store, and steal the items from their car.
This can be prevented by dropping off gifts at home before making a second trip, or if an additional stop is absolutely necessary, by placing items in the trunk. Either way, be aware of your surroundings to make sure you haven’t been followed.
Other tips that could prove helpful in reducing the likelihood of becoming a victim during the holiday season are as follows: Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, don’t carry a purse or wallet if possible, avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
Auto theft also generally spikes toward the latter months of the year. While Christmas Day has low theft statistics, New Year’s Day is the second most popular day of the year for auto thefts according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, with more than 2,300 vehicles reported stolen in 2011.
The most frequently stolen cars, are the Honda Accord and Honda Civic.
Tips to help avoid auto theft during the holidays (and any other day) include:
Leave your car in plain site
While the natural inclination is to hide something you don’t want anyone to steal, visibility is key to deterring criminals from thievery, particularly if parked in a well-lit, populated area.
Don’t hide your keys anywhere within or outside your car
Thieves are often professionals, and know all the places to look.
Use a variety of methods to slow potential thieves
Car alarms are a start, though they often go ignored. But, when used alongside other prevention methods, such as a steering wheel lock, applying the emergency brake, or turning the wheel hard left or right to lock it, the time a thief takes to steal your car without being noticed can increase substantially.
Use good judgment this holiday season. Don’t live in fear during the happiest time of the year, but remember, if something feels off, it probably is.