Don't Let the Grinch Get Away with Your Holiday Gifts
The holiday shopping season is here, and we recently conducted a polled to find out what holiday shopping habits people have developed. A few of these shopping habits leave them open to theft, so here are some solutions.
Keeping Purchases in Your Car
If you've ever gone on a power shopping trip for Christmas gifts, you know it can involve carrying a large number of packages around the mall or making trips to several stores that aren't in the mall. It's not feasible for most of us to go home and lock our gifts up after each stop, and carrying a lot of gifts around can get awkward, so most of us resort to keeping them in our cars. We conducted an informal shopping poll and 81% of the respondents said they keep purchases in their car for up to eight hours; 7% told us they leave gifts in their car for a few days or even weeks. To keep your purchases out of the prying eyes of thieves, hide them well and lock your vehicle. In addition, don't leave other valuable items in plain sight. Even a cord to play your iPod can indicate to a thief that the iPod might be in your car, so hide that too!
Shopping online is a great way to avoid the crowds, but it also means your purchases are vulnerable when they are delivered. If someone is always home at your house, the risk is low. But in many households, both parents work and the kids are at school. If a package is left on your doorstep, it could be hours before anyone is home to bring it inside. Our poll indicated that 77% of those who shop online have packages delivered to their homes, and 65% of those online shoppers have deliveries that are left unattended for more than two hours. There are many ways to avoid this situation:
- When ordering, ask to require a signature when a package is delivered.
- Ask to have packages hidden behind bushes, planters, etc. at your house.
- Ask to have packages held at the delivery center in your area, then go pick them up yourself.
- Have them delivered to you at work if your employer will allow it.
- Have them delivered to the home of a friend or family member who is home most of the time.
Realize there is a fee for some of these services, but it could prevent a lot of heartache and hassle later. If your gifts do get stolen, check with your credit card company. Many offer protection against theft. If you file a police report immediately, some will refund the amount of your purchase up to a certain dollar amount. Protection varies so check with your credit card company for details.
Excited about Black Friday? Like to share when you get a good deal somewhere? Or maybe you're traveling for the holidays and want to share your pictures. While a majority of our respondents did not admit to posting these online, it's good to keep in mind that these types of posts could tell a thief you aren't home, leaving your house vulnerable to burglary. To avoid this, don't post about your shopping trips on social media. Better yet—make your profiles private. That way, only your friends can see when you aren't home, and they won't rob you, right?
If you're traveling during the holidays, remember the social media tips mentioned above, but also invest in a timer for your lights, both indoors and out. You don't have to set one for every room in the house, but it's not a bad idea to have one or two on inside, and one for your outside lights as well. A house that's usually lit up for Christmas then suddenly stays dark over Christmas is a dead giveaway that you're gone, potentially making you a target for thieves. Timers are an inexpensive way to keep them away.
It's also a good idea to ask a neighbor to collect any newspapers or deliveries for you while you're gone, and ask the post office to place a hold on your mail delivery until you return. This gives would-be thieves the appearance that you're home so you don't become a robbery victim.
Luckily, 95% of our participants stated that they have not had their gifts stolen before, and we hope with these tips it won't happen to you either!