Preventing Theft and Related Crimes during the Holidays

During the holiday season, especially at Christmas, theft-related crimes tend to increase. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), robbery and larceny increase by approximately 20% every December. As a result, this time of year requires additional vigilance.

Why Theft Increases During the Christmas Holiday Season

There are two main factors that contribute to why December typically sees an increase in crime. One factor is that criminals know that people carry more cash when they are Christmas shopping. If you’re in a public place while shopping for Christmas gifts, it is best to avoid flashing large amounts of money.

Another factor is the way people do their holiday shopping. From my experience working for a police agency with a large mall in our jurisdiction, one of the biggest problems that I saw was shoppers making expensive purchases – such as television, computers, and other items – and storing those items in their vehicles before returning to the mall for more shopping. Criminals watch for people to store their gifts, wait for the vehicle to be unattended and break in to steal whatever a shopper purchases.

If you’re shopping at a mall or other location, be sure to make only one trip to the car once all your shopping is done. It’s also helpful to avoid shopping with small children who can be distracting and refrain from shopping at night. If you must shop at night, try to park in a well-lit area whenever possible and take along another person.

When you’re shopping at Christmas, be sure not to leave gifts unattended in your vehicle.

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Tips for Staying Secure over the Holidays

Criminals know that many people take a vacation over the holidays and that unoccupied homes contain Christmas gifts such as computers and jewelry. Consequently, homes that are obviously vacant are common targets.

However, there are multiple steps you can take to protect your belongings, such as:

  • Utilizing a reputable security alarm system
  • Installing an exterior camera system that is noticeable to a potential burglar
  • Asking neighbors to come by occasionally to give any watchers the impression the home is occupied
  • Parking a spare vehicle or a neighbor’s vehicle in your driveway
  • Asking a trusted friend or family member to pick up your mail and newspapers
  • Setting your lights or televisions on timers to give the impression someone is home

When you shop online and ask for your Christmas gifts to be delivered to your home, it is best to be home when those purchases are delivered to avoid porch pirates. A highly visible exterior camera system can also be effective at deterring some thieves.

In addition, wait until you return from after your Christmas vacation to post photos from your trip online; it’s better to not advertise the fact that you’re out of town on social media sites. You should also review your social media privacy settings to ensure that strangers aren’t being notified that you’re not home.

The Christmas holiday season should be an enjoyable time. But knowing that you’re taken extra precautions to avoid theft will also bring you peace of mind.

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Preventing Theft and Related Crimes during the Holidays is written by Dr. Jarrod Sadulski for