The Holiday Season is prime hunting season for criminals. Criminals are lazy and always look for easy opportunities. They know that over the holiday season people are more relaxed and that this creates additional opportunities for them to target their next victim. Your goal is to make it as hard as possible for them in order to discourage them to select you as their next victim. Here are some tips to protect your property, yourself and your loved ones during the holiday season:
- If you are going away on holiday, create the impression that somebody is at home. Set wall plug timers connected to bed lamps inside your home. The lights will switch on and off at the times you pre-programmed. When setting the timers, set it so that it switches off at around the normal time you go do bed and on a the normal time you wake up. Also set it so that the lights switch on for a few minutes in the early hours of the morning to simulate somebody getting up and going to the kitchen or bathroom. To an observer in the street, it will appear as if somebody is at home.
- Leave a child’s toy on the lawn to create impression somebody is at home.
- Arrange with neighbors or a housesitting service to remove newspapers and mail from your mailbox.
- Remember to set your burglar alarm. To reduce the risk of false alarms, spray bug spray around each sensor to reduce the risk of bugs causing false alarms and make sure windows are closed and curtains drawn to prevent the wind or sun from triggering the sensors. An alarm that constantly triggers tells criminals that nobody is at home.
- Do no post your holiday plans on social media as everybody will know that nobody is home.
- Christmas time is the time for gifts. Criminals also shop for gifts by going through your trash to see what boxes are in the trash. If they find a box of a huge new smart TV, they know what is inside your house. Instead of putting boxes and wrappings of new items on your pavement, tear them up and spread them into several trash bags. Only put those bags out when the trash removal service is already in the street busy collecting the bags. Alternatively, take it to a trash can at a shopping center.
- To reduce the risk of hijackings, remember that most hijackings occur at so called “choke points”. Those are areas where you are forced to stop like traffic lights, stop streets, gates, parking lots and fuel stations. The number one reason why most hijackings succeed is because the victim is surprised by the attackers, often because they are distracted by something. Cellphones are the biggest distractor of our time. Stay off your phone anytime you are in your car, especially at choke points.
- Look out for vehicles following you. If you do notice a vehicle following you, do not stop. Hijackings can only happen when you stop.
- If you are hijacked and cannot manage to escape, the safest option is to comply. It is not worth risking your life for a car.
- To prevent smash and grabs, do no leave valuables in plain site inside your vehicle. Lock it in your trunk.
- Be careful when withdrawing money at ATM’s. Card swopping is a reality. Do not accept help from strangers. If your card is stuck in the ATM, do not leave the ATM. Call the helpline from your cellphone and block the card immediately.
- Make sure you put a small withdrawal limit on your card – this will reduce your potential loss when you are robbed.
- Remember criminals target people they think they can easily overpower. They select victims by looking at their physical appearance but they also look for people that are distracted, relaxed and intoxicated. The typical holiday maker meets a number of these criteria at any given time.
- Apply common sense. Avoid potentially dangerous places when you are alone. Being alone on deserted beach at sunrise or sunset is a bad idea. Being intoxicated in public, is not only illegal but makes you a prime target for bad guys. Walking around taking pictures with your phone, may distract you and you will most likely not notice that bad guy zooming in on you.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Bad guys normally give away that they are about to attack. It is called pre-attack indicators and include things like making excessive eye contact, trying to touch your body, concealing a hand carrying a weapon, talking a lot to distract you etc. Listen to your gut. When you get a feeling hat something is not right, listen to your instinct. If you suddenly experience a sensation of butterflies in your stomach, trembling, dry mouth, tunnel vision etc, it is your bodies way to warm you of danger. Act appropriately. Escape the situation whenever you can. The easiest fight to win is the one where you are not present! Fight until the threat is stopped when your life is at stake. It is probably the safest option to comply when they want your property.