Car robbery

Thief stealing a purse from the car from the car's back window.

Safety is always a concern, but with the hustle and bustle of the holidays in full swing, it’s time to be even more vigilant about protecting yourself and your belongings. Traveling, shopping and ordering packages online leave people vulnerable to theft, so it’s important to stay safe during all those holiday activities. Here are a few tips to safeguard your self, home and packages.

 

While traveling:

Know your neighbors

Thieves often look for signs that a homeowner is traveling such as un-shoveled driveways, piled up trash and mail stacking up at the front door. Neighbors can remove these telltale signs and keep an eye on your home while you are gone.

 

Set an alarm

Make sure your alarm system is updated and armed “even during the daytime or if you’re going to be out of the house even for only a short period. Theft happens during all hours,” an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department news release warned. 

 

Stay off social media

While telling others your travel plans can be safe, doing so on social media is not. Remember your friends and family are not the only ones with access to your social media feed. Don’t post about any trip until you are back home.

 

WHILE SHOPPING:

Stay alert

Both in crowded shopping centers and vulnerable parking lots, it’s best to stay aware. Robert Bliek, self-defense expert and head instructor at Phoenix Rising Karate, recommends doing what he calls “predator checks” — taking a moment every five seconds or so to observe the environment. The predator check doesn’t have to be panicky or scared. It’s just a quick scan of what’s around. 

 

Go out in groups

It’s best to shop in a group. Groups are targeted much less for pickpocketing and other kinds of theft than individuals. In addition, you can distribute bags among the crowd to prevent one person from carrying too much. If children are a part of your group, tell them to go to a store clerk or security guard if separated.

 

Keep space between you and strangers

According to Bliek, if a stranger walks up to you in a parking lot, it’s best to be cautious and not get too close, putting your car between you and the person if possible. If the stranger does make an advance toward you, run in the opposite direction around your car. Bliek calls the motion “squirrel around a tree” as you’ll see squirrels do this to avoid dogs. If you feel unsafe, don’t be afraid to call for help.

 

WHEN ORDERING PACKAGES:

Customize delivery instructions

Package theft has become a big problem, especially for those ordering Christmas gifts. Take advantage of the “delivery instructions” feature to stop porch pirates. Request for packages to be delivered at a time you know you’ll be home. If you can’t be home, request for packages to be left somewhere out of sight, such as by the side of your house.

 

Install Security

There are affordable security options for your front porch such as security cameras and doorbell cameras that link to smartphones. In addition, you can install lockboxes as a more secure alternative to mailboxes.

 

Deliver elsewhere

The best way to stop people from stealing your packages is to not have them delivered to your home. If possible, have packages delivered to your place of work instead. If your boss isn’t open to the idea, Amazon offers specialty lockers to Prime Members for free. There are five Amazon locker locations in Indianapolis.

 

Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

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