How to NOT Be a Victim of Theft This Holiday Season
AEGIS Security & Investigations has a keen focus on personal safety, especially when it comes to preventing theft. We know that public safety starts with your individual safety, and that taking strides toward your security will encourage your friends and family to do the same. This holiday season, remind your friends and family (and yourself) to stay safe as the weather gets chillier and the nights grow longer.
While the holiday season brings a lot of cheer, it also brings a lot of threats, particularly theft. AEGIS wants to help you limit the potential ways your home and property could be burglarized.
Package theft is on the rise again with a thief striking in Sherman Oaks just last week. Protecting your shipments may be difficult if you aren’t home right away to pick them up, but technology can help.
- Install a security camera or camera+doorbell system (we like Ring systems) that is synced to your phone. You can view people who trigger the camera alarm or try to ring the doorbell to test whether you’re home. From there, you can even tell them to go away or you’ll call the police! Plus, having video evidence of the person who stole the package is likely to help deter the overall crisis should you report any such incident to local authorities.
- Avoid ordering items that will be shipped during a time when no one is home. This includes remembering to turn off elements like overnight delivery and Amazon Prime when you are gone for the weekend or out of town for the holidays.
- If you are using well-known package delivery services, see if they have pick-up services near you.
- Provide delivery instructions like contacting you upon arrival or have them leave the package behind a gate, fence, or wall.
As close as Kern County, sheriff departments are reporting incidents of mail theft. Check out these tips to prevent your gifts from being snatched:
- Avoid sending cash in the mail. While you may want to give the kids in your family an easy, usable gift, it’s better to bring it to them in person or find a way to send it to them electronically.
- When it comes to bills, move online. Receiving paper statements may act as a good reminder, but if even one day’s worth of mail disappears, you may forget which bill was missed.
- If you are dropping off mail, do not just leave it in your mailbox. Especially if you are sending out your holiday cards and “small” gifts, it is best to drop them off at a Postal Service mailbox, mail slot, or even your letter carrier’s hand.
- Going out of town? Ask a friend to pick it up regularly (every day) or have the post office hold your mail until you return. Be sure to contact your local office as soon as possible to check their requirements and needs.
- Consider gifting yourself a locking mailbox!
- USPS now has Informed Delivery, allowing users to interact with their incoming mail and packages in one online location. You can receive email notifications containing images of the exterior, address side of regular letters.
While you may think your car is safe while sitting in the garage at work, at the mall, or even across the street from your friend’s house during a party, it may still be at risk. California is at the top of the list of states with the most vehicle thefts per year, and being in Los Angeles increases that risk. So, what can you do to prevent this type of theft? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these tips:
- Always lock your car with closed windows and be sure to take your key with you. Avoid trying to hide your key around the car, even if you think it will be safe.
- Park under a street light or in another well-lit area. The more light, the more likely you are to deter potential thieves.
- Do not leave valuables in your car. Even if they are hidden or in the trunk, they are susceptible to being spotted, and your car could be broken into. Valuables include phones, wallets, purses and big-ticket purchases (even the hottest kid’s toy).
- If you do need to leave purchases in the car that may be of value, be sure to lock them in the trunk or hide them under something if you have a rear window into the trunk space. Take the receipts with you so there is no chance of a thief trying to return items for cash and to prove that you purchased those items should you need to file a report.
- And for G-d’s sake, don’t leave your garage open!
In an age where plastic is more common than cash, we are all potential victims of identity theft. Particularly during the holiday season, when people are bustling about and making large numbers of purchases, it is critical that you confirm you have all of your purchases verified. Here are our tips on avoiding identity theft throughout the holiday season:
- Keep your receipts. This will help you keep track of purchases you definitely made as well as verify that those are the only authorized purchases you made should you need to go through a credit company.
- Review all of your credit card statements. Even without receipts in hand, you will recognize completely incorrect charges. Double-check that the purchases were local to you. Look at the names of stores and ask yourself if that would have been a likely place for a gift purchase. If you traveled, make sure you are seeing purchases that were in that area. If you made online purchases, check the company names and the amounts associated with each purchase. Remember, catching a wrong record early (before paying the bill) can save you a lot of time and hassle in the long-run.
- Check your bank account(s) before and after you pay your holiday bills. Do the numbers match up? Is there a discrepancy? If someone has access to your bank data, they will likely try to drain the accounts or even simply pay off some of their larger outstanding bills.
- Respond to bank, credit card, and other alerts regarding potential improper charges and fraud alert. Many companies have built-in systems to confirm that you are out of town and making purchases outside of your home state. Others track your purchase patterns and will notify you when a unique (usually large) purchase is made. While they can be erroneous, they can also be the first sign that someone has your data and is committing identity theft. Be sure to respond to emails, texts and calls after confirming whether you made a purchase. Even informing the company that you made the purchase increases their abilities to fight identity theft and protects you for the future.
- If you’re still having concerns about your data, you can use various online sites like com to see if anything pops up. In serious cases, you may want to consider hiring someone to track your records for you.
Since you pulled out your lights and decorations from storage, you may not have thought about what you had to put in there to make space or what you left in there from months past. Keeping your storage space secure, whether it is in a commercial facility or on your property, can save you a lot of grief should a theft be attempted. Check out these tips from a metropolitan police department:
- Know where you are storing your stuff. Ask about the facility, research reviews of it, and be prepared to ask hard questions of the sales people, like how often burglaries have occurred and what security protocols they have in place.
- If you have been at a particular facility for a while, make suggestions to increase the security there. If there are not cameras in every hallway, recommend that to the facility owner. Find out if they have security patrol services and ask other facility users if they would be willing to pursue a company.
- Keep your keys (and their copies) to a minimum. The only people who should have access to the storage unit are those who need it. Avoid giving keys to friends as “just in case” options as they may not be as concerned with the unit’s security as you are.
- If possible, use two commercial grade locks. Padlocks tend to be stronger than the typical long-hanging locks and will be more durable should someone try to use wire cutters to break in.
- Avoid keeping high-priced things in your storage unit. If you absolutely need to leave those items in a storage unit, be sure it is covered in your homeowner’s insurance.
AEGIS Security & Investigations is a Los Angeles region company that is licensed and insured in the State of California to provide high-end armed and unarmed regular and temporary off-duty police officers, bodyguards, security officers, loss prevention agents, and event staff. Additionally, we offer services for private investigation, consultation, people tracing, and background investigation. Our trainings and workshops in the field of security licensure and counter-terrorism have been featured in news media and are renowned for their efficacy. For more information or to contact us, visit www.aegis.com.
By Chelsea Turner & Jeff Zisner