The holiday season is here and you know what that means? Christmas carols, holiday cheers, and increased opportunities for crime. And with that, the need to learn or re-learn crime prevention tips is more important than ever.
Every year as the holidays draw near, we begin to worry about an uptick in crime. Your worries are not without merit. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), robbery and larceny increased by approximately 20% during December. While more violent crimes like murder typically do not increase during the holiday season, it’s still important to stay vigilant against all kinds of crimes.
It’s often assumed that the incline in crime is associated with people getting desperate. Some people feel the pressure of the holidays and turn to crime just to be able to buy gifts and prepare a nice Christmas dinner. Others may be trying to take advantage of the holiday spirit by preying on people who are distracted and not paying attention to their surroundings. It’s also likely that many people are carrying money and other valuables on them as they go about their holiday shopping, making them easy targets for crime.
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season is to be prepared and aware of your surroundings. Here are some valuable crime prevention tips to help you have a worry-free holiday season:
Crime Prevention Tips When You’re Out Christmas Shopping
1) Be extra vigilant when out in public
This means being aware of your surroundings, not getting distracted by your phone, and keeping your valuables close to you. By being extra vigilant, you can spot an attack before it happens and have a better chance of thwarting it.
It’s easy to get distracted by all the bright Christmas lights, window displays, and holiday shoppers around, but it’s important to stay alert. If you’re using your phone, be sure to keep it close to you and in your line of sight so you can see what’s going on around you.
2) Don’t carry all your cash with you
You should also avoid carrying large amounts of cash and all your credit cards. If you must carry them with you, keep them hidden and close to your body. Use your pocket, a zip-up wallet, or a cross-body bag. This will make it more difficult for pickpockets to grab them.
3) Don’t wear anything valuable when you go out
You don’t need to wear jewelry or fancy timepieces when you go shopping for Christmas presents. Leave them at home where they’re a lot safer. If you look rich, you’ll be a target for crime. Do your best to look like a regular shopper.
4) Be extra careful when using ATMs
When you need to get some cash, be extra careful when using an ATM. Thieves sometimes target people who are using ATMs, so it’s best to be aware of your surroundings. If possible, use an ATM inside a bank or other well-lit, busy location. And be sure to shield your PIN from anyone who might be watching.
5) Use contactless payment methods
This is one of the best crime prevention tips out there. Whenever possible, use a cashless or contactless payment methods like mobile wallets and tap-and-go credit cards or debit cards. This way, even if your wallet or purse is stolen, you won’t be without money.
6) Shop with a friend or family member
There’s safety in numbers, so try to do your Christmas shopping with someone else. Make sure to watch each other’s back while you’re out there. Keep an eye on each other’s belongings and watch out for each other if something happens.
7) Inform someone if you’re shopping alone
If you’re alone, be sure to let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. That way, if something does happen, someone will know to look for you.
8) Take note of crime hotspots
Be aware of crime hotspots in your city or town. These are usually areas with high foot traffic, such as shopping malls and busy streets. If possible, avoid these areas or take extra precautions when you’re in them.
If you can’t help but go to these areas, be sure to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. And if you see anything suspicious, don’t hesitate to report it to the authorities.
9) Do your shopping during the day
If possible, do your shopping during the daytime hours when there are more people around. More people means more potential witnesses.
10) Park in a well-lit area, especially at night
When you’re out doing some Christmas shopping, you should be careful where you leave your car. It may be difficult to find a parking spot when everyone is out shopping for gifts and taking advantage of sales. Still, you should make sure to park in well-lit areas, especially at night.
Some thieves may try to break into your car or steal it outright. Others may be sitting in the dark waiting for you to come back and jump you.
11) Keep your car locked and your valuables hidden
Even if you’re just running into the store for a quick minute, be sure to lock your car doors. When you’re finished shopping for the day, put all your bags in the trunk so they’re out of sight. Thieves are more likely to break into a car if they can see something worth stealing. If you must keep valuables in your car, keep them in the trunk where they’re less likely to be seen. Better yet, don’t leave anything of great value inside your vehicle.
12) Never leave your car unoccupied with the engine running
When it’s cold outside, you may be tempted to leave your car running while you go into the store. But this is a bad idea. Unattended cars with engines running are easy targets for thieves. So even if it’s freezing outside, make sure to turn off your car and take your keys with you. And please! Never leave children or pets in your car alone, no matter how quick you think you’ll be. It’s just not worth the risk.
13) Have your keys ready before you get to your car
When you’re approaching your car, have your keys ready in your hand. This will help you get into your car quickly and deter criminals from attacking you.
Crime Prevention Tips At Home
14) Get a security system
There’s no better way to protect your home than by installing a security system. Not only will it deter potential burglars, but it will also give you peace of mind. If you have a two-story home, make sure the second-floor windows are wired to your security system. Thieves can climb up and break into your home through these windows.
Make sure the system is compatible with your home’s existing wiring. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck paying costly installation fees. Most security systems require a dedicated phone line in order to function properly, so if your home doesn’t already have one, you’ll need to install one yourself. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, so it’s best to ensure that your home is compatible with the security system you choose before you buy.
Choose a system that offers features that fit your lifestyle. For example, if you have pets, look for a system that includes door and window sensors that can distinguish between animals and intruders.
15) Keep all doors and windows locked when you’re not at home
Locking your doors and windows is one of the simplest crime prevention tips and also one of the most effective. However, many people tend to forget to do this simple task. With the rise of home intrusion and robberies during the holiday season, you should be more mindful about locking up your home when you’re not there.
Even if people are at home, you should keep the doors and windows locked. The worst thing to happen is for thieves to enter your home while your family is inside. If you have young children, make sure they know not to open the door to strangers. You can install a peephole in your door so you can see who’s outside before you open it. And remember, if a burglar does manage to force his way into your home, it’s always better to let them steal your stuff than have a reason to hurt your loved ones.
Make sure to always check if your doors and windows are locked. Do a double take before leaving your home or going to bed. Sometimes people are too busy, in a rush, or too sleepy that they forget to lock all possible entry points making it easier for thieves to do their thing.
If you have a garage door, wait until it’s completely closed before driving off. It’s possible for thieves to be hiding nearby and waiting for a chance to sneak in before the garage door is completely shut.
Pet doors can also be used to access your home. If you have one, make sure it can be properly locked. Like other points of entry in your home, make sure it’s locked when you’re not using it.
16) Replace wooden or PVC doors with steel ones
One way to prevent home intrusion and burglary is to invest in a steel door. A regular door made of wood or PVC is easy to break down. Thieves wouldn’t have much trouble kicking it in.
17) Install window bars or grills
Window bars or grills will make it more difficult for burglars to break in. If they see that your windows are well-protected, they’re less likely to attempt a break-in. Just make sure you have a way to break out in case of an emergency such as a fire.
While window bars or grills can be a great crime prevention tool, they also prevent you from escaping a burning home. So make sure they can be opened from the inside in case of an emergency. If you have small children or elderly family members, make sure they can reach the release mechanism. You should also have a fire ladder nearby so everyone can climb down safely.
18) Invest in high-quality locks and other anti-theft devices
It may not enough to just close and lock your doors and windows. If you want to really deter thieves, you should invest in high-quality locks. This is especially important for your front door. The stronger and more secure your locks are, the less likely it is that burglars will be able to break into your home.
Deadbolts are a great option because they’re more difficult to pick than regular door locks. You can also install strike plates on your doors, which will make them stronger and more resistant to forced entry. Use longer and sturdier screws on your door frame, too. Weak or flimsy doors and door frames can easily be broken into.
To make sure that your door is always locked, install a smart lock. This type of lock automatically locks the door when you close it and can even be unlocked remotely using your smartphone.
If you have sliding glass doors, be sure to install a security bar or rod that prevents the door from being opened from the outside. You can also install sensors on doors and windows that will sound an alarm if they’re opened.
19) Keep your home well-lit
A well-lit home, both inside and out, is less likely to be targeted by burglars. When your home is properly illuminated, it’s more difficult for thieves to hide. It’s also easier for neighbors and passersby to spot suspicious activity.
Having proper outdoor lighting is one of the most effective crime prevention tips, especially during the holiday season. Burglars are less likely to target a well-lit home if they think they can easily be seen while prowling around outside.
20) Install motion-sensing lights around your home
Another valuable crime prevention tip for your home is to install motion-sensing lights around your home. These lights will turn on automatically when someone approaches, making it more difficult for them to hide and giving you a chance to see them before they have a chance to break into your home. The thieves may also think that someone is inside even if no one is home, which could make them think twice about breaking in.
21) Don’t make it easier for burglars to climb into your home
Give your home’s exterior a good look and see if you can find ways to climb up and into the second-floor windows or balcony. If so, take action to make it more difficult for burglars to gain access to your home. Even if you think it’s impossible, many experienced burglars will figure out a way. So think like a thief and concoct different scenarios in your mind.
One obvious solution is to remove any items that thieves can use for climbing like ladders and patio furniture. If you have outdoor furniture, make sure to secure them to the floor so thieves can’t easily move and use them to reach your upper floors.
22) Keep trees and shrubs trimmed
You may think that having high shrubs and trees will help conceal your home from burglars but that may work against you. If shrubs and trees are not trimmed, they can provide cover for burglars and help them break into your home without being seen.
Once they’re inside your home, the untrimmed shrubs and trees will also keep the neighborhood watch from seeing the crime happening in your home. Be sure to keep your shrubs and trees trimmed, especially those covering your windows and doors. You want them to be visible from the street so it’s easier to see if someone else is inside your home. You should also trim back any branches that may be hanging over your home as these can be used to gain access to upper floors.
23) Be mindful of where you place mirrors in your home
Do you have a mirror in the hall leading to your door? Thieves can check the reflection in the mirror to see if the security system is armed or not. To avoid this, don’t place mirrors near doors or windows where they can be used to spy on your comings and goings.
24) Designate a safe room
Every home needs to have a safe room or panic room. This is where you and your loved ones can hide and be safe from intruders. These rooms can also keep you safe during a disaster or other emergency situations.
Your safe room should be large enough to accommodate everyone in your family, and it should have a sturdy door that can be locked from the inside. It should be stocked with supplies like food, water, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and emergency gear. It’s also a good idea to have a phone in your safe room so you can call for help if needed.
25) Invest in a home safe
A home safe is a great way to protect your valuables from thieves. When choosing a home safe, make sure to select one that’s big enough to store all your important documents and belongings, but not so big that it’s too heavy to move. It’s also important to choose a safe that’s made of thick, heavy-duty steel and has a strong locking mechanism.
26) Consider getting a dog
A barking dog can be a burglar’s worst nightmare. Not only will they make noise and alert you to someone’s presence, but they can also be a physical deterrent to burglars.
There are many different breeds of dogs that make great guard dogs, but some of the best include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls. If you’re not ready for the responsibility of owning a dog, you can also consider getting a security system that includes a barking dog alarm.
27) Get to know your neighbors
One of the best crime prevention tips is to get to know your neighbors. If you have a good relationship with them, they’ll be more likely to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood. They can also call the police if they suspect that someone has broken into your home.
28) Tone down the Christmas lights and decor
Decorate your home in a more subtle way. Too many fancy lights and expensive decorations make it look like you’re too well-off and begging to be robbed.
29) Don’t leave gifts and valuables in plain view
This is another crime prevention tip that seems like a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning. If you have valuables in your home, don’t leave them out in the open where everyone can see them. This includes things like jewelry, electronics, cash, and important documents.
As for the Christmas presents, it’d be a lot safer to hide them in a locked closet or cabinet first. Gifts sitting under the tree or in plain view are like an invitation for burglars to come and take them. Instead, keep your gifts hidden away until you’re ready to give them out.
30) Hide Your Trash
Don’t make it too obvious to thieves that you just made some huge purchases. Some burglars like to wander around neighborhoods during trash day to see what new goodies people have gotten, especially after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and other holidays. If they spot empty boxes of laptops, LED TVs, or gaming consoles, they’ll know that you have some valuable items in your home.
Tear the boxes apart and distribute the pieces in separate garbage bags. Even if the boxes are not visible, some scavenge-happy criminals will go through the trash to look for names and addresses on the boxes. By separating the pieces, you make it harder for the thieves to piece them together.
It’d also be easier if you remove or use a marker to black out your personal details on the boxes before tearing and throwing them out.
31) Be cautious when answering the door
During the holiday season, there’s an increase in door-to-door salespeople and solicitors. While most of these people are harmless, some may be casing your home for a future burglary.
If you don’t know the person at your door, don’t open it. You can also put up a sign that says “No Solicitors” or “Do Not Disturb” to deter people from coming to your door. If you must answer the door, make sure to keep the chain locked and never let the person inside your home.
Other Crime Prevention Tips
32) Be extra careful when using delivery services
If you’re going to order anything online, make sure it’s from a reputable store or seller. There have been incidents of people receiving empty boxes or boxes filled with trash. So if you don’t want to be scammed, only order from trusted sources.
Track your packages so you know when they’re scheduled to arrive and be home to receive them. If you can’t be home, have the package delivered to your office, a neighbor, or a friend you trust instead of having it left on your doorstep. This way, there’s less of a chance that it will get stolen.
33) Don’t entertain unfamiliar callers
Use caution when answering the phone, especially if you don’t know the person on the other end. These types of calls are often used as a way to gather information about your home and family.
If you get a suspicious call, don’t give out any personal information. Never tell the stranger that you’re home alone or that you have expensive jewelry or electronics. You can also hang up the phone or say that you’ll call them back later.
33) Beware of fake charities
During the holiday season, there’s an increase in fake charities. These organizations will often use high-pressure tactics to get you to donate money, and they may not use the money for the intended purpose.
Before you donate to any charity, make sure to do your research. You can check with the Better Business Bureau or visit the charity’s website to see if they’re legitimate.
34) Don’t post your vacation plans on social media
You may be excited to share your holiday vacation plans on social media, but resist the urge! Don’t advertise your absence on social media. You don’t want to give burglars a road map of when your home will be empty.
Wait until you get back from vacation to post all those amazing photos. In the meantime, set your social media accounts to private so only your friends and family can see what you’re up to.
35) Avoid sharing photos of expensive items you got for Christmas
Some people like to share photos of their new Christmas gifts on social media, but this can be a bad idea. Not only will some people think you’re boasting, but you’re also giving criminals a heads-up on what valuables you have in your home.
It’s best to keep these photos of your new game console or diamond necklace to yourself, or at least wait until after the holidays when the crime rate is lower.
The holidays are a time for cheer, family, friends, and lots of good food. Unfortunately, they’re also a popular time for criminals to take advantage of unsuspecting people. That’s why it’s important to be doubly careful during this season and know how to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming victims. Check out our list of crime prevention tips for a worry-free holiday season and learn how to stay safe while you celebrate. While you’re at it, discover more safety tips over at Gentleman Pirate Club. Have a happy (and safe) holiday season!