The holidays are prime time for thieves — both online and around stores. While we talk a lot about how to protect yourself from scammers and con artists while shopping online or just surfing the Internet, we can’t forget about the basic precautions that are necessary when you’ve got precious cargo in the car!
According to Consumer Reports, the holiday season sparks a spike in crime — people are distracted while shopping for the best deals, often leaving their guard down.
“We see a definite rise in crime around the holidays,” Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police told Consumer Reports. “People leave packages in vehicles, and criminals know it’s that time of year. They’re just looking for something they can grab.”
So to help you protect yourself and your gifts this season, check out these tips from Consumer Reports.
5 ways to keep your car secure this shopping season
1. Pay attention to where you park
If you’re one of those people who parks as far away as possible to keep other drivers from dinging your car, maybe don’t drive your car to the mall or other busy areas around the holiday shopping season. In order to keep your car and your valuables safe, here are a few things to remember about parking:
- Park as close to the store entrance as you can and under a light if it could get dark.
- Write down any signs or other landmarks that will help you find your way back to your spot.
- Avoid parking next to large vans or large SUVs that could give a thief privacy.
2. Lock your car, seriously
According to CR, law enforcement officials say ‘many thefts are the result of unlocked cars.’ Don’t invite the thieves in! Make sure all doors are locked, windows are up and sunroof is closed before leaving the car in any parking lot.
3. Hide any valuables
Don’t leave anything in sight inside your car that a thief may want. This includes shopping bags, packages, cell phones, music players, phone chargers and anything else that could possibly spark a thief’s interest. Lock them up in the trunk or at least hide them out of sight if possible.
4. Keep moving
You’ve probably seen it before: Someone walking out of a store to unload a bunch of packages or shopping bags, before heading back into the mall or other shopping area. Don’t do that. If thieves are watching, the items you just unloaded likely won’t be there when you get back. If you need to drop off items at your car, move the car to another space in a different area before going back in.
5. Pay attention to your surroundings
Don’t make yourself a target by being distracted on your cell phone. Pay attention to your surroundings as you walk to and from your car, and stay off the phone to avoid any distractions. If you have a full load to carry, get your car keys out before you head to the car. That way when you get there, you can get yourself and your packages in quickly, lock the doors and get on your way.