Avoiding Problems this Christmas

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

As we all know, we are in the midst of the Christmas holiday season. That’s a busy time for most of us; but it’s also a busy time for the criminal element in society. They see the Christmas season as a prime time to stuff their own stockings with your gifts or to pick those gifts up and return them for a full refund. Either way, it’s their version of playing Robin Hood, taking from the rich (you and I) and giving to their favorite poor (themselves).

Sadly, many people drop their guard at this time of year, becoming so busy with enjoying the spirit of Christmas, that they forget that others have a much different idea about what that spirit is. Thus, they make themselves easy targets, at a time when extra diligence is needed.

But it really doesn’t take much to make your Christmas safe from these villains. A little bit of awareness and precaution can go a long way towards making them say “bah, humbug” rather than you saying it yourself in response to what they do.

Watch Your Back

The first thing you want to do is to watch your back. This is a prime time for stickup artists, because people are carrying around large amounts of cash. While most of us are used to using plastic for our purchases, there are times when it is just more convenient to take cash along. Criminals know this and will stake out teller machines, hoping to make their own withdraws from your account.

One of the easiest ways to foil their plans is to not go to a teller machine alone, especially at night. Always take another adult with you, preferably an armed one. They can act as your guard, while you take care of business. With an obvious guard looking around, anyone who was thinking about taking your cash is probably going to make themselves scarce.

Keep Your Porch Clear

The increase of online ordering has resulted in an increase of thieves stealing packages off of front porches. They don’t care what’s in the package, as whatever it contains can be sold or fenced. It’s not uncommon for them to sell something brand new, that you paid full price for, at about 10% of the price you paid.

The trick here is to not get deliveries left on your front porch. Depending on your personal situation, there are several different things you can do to, which will foil their plans, by making sure there’s nothing there for them to steal:

  • If you have a family member at home, grab the package as soon as it is delivered.
  • If you don’t have anyone at home, but have a neighbor who stays home during the day, see if you can have your packages delivered to their home.
  • Have packages shipped to you with a signature requirement. That way, the delivery driver can’t just leave it on your porch.
  • Have packages delivered to your work, if you can.
  • Pick up the packages at the shipping company’s office. FedEx, UPS and the USPS all allow this.
  • Have the package delivered to the store, instead of your home and pick it up there; most of the big chains allow this and it can get you free shipping to boot.
  • Have your packages delivered to a PO Box

Don’t Fill Your Back Seat

Bags filled with presents, sitting in the back seat of your care are a real temptation for thieves, especially if you forget to lock the doors. Always make sure you keep anything you buy out of sight, putting it in the trunk. If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, like most SUVs, then keep an old blanket in the vehicle to cover packages up with. If they can’t see that it’s worth stealing, most thieves won’t bother trying to break into your car.

Don’t Overburden Yourself

While shopping in the mall, make several trips to the car, to unload your purchases, if necessary. The classic image of a man following his wife around the mall, overburdened with packages, is a magnet for pickpockets and thieves. They figure they have a pretty good chance of grabbing something, without him even knowing it. That something will probably even have a receipt in the bag, allowing them to return it right away for a full refund.

Of course, there are other things you can do to protect yourself from pickpockets. One of the most important is to keep your head on a swivel, so that you see anyone who is acting suspiciously, before they do anything. Even if you don’t spot them, they’ll think you did and leave you alone, looking instead for someone who isn’t paying attention.

Avoid carrying your wallet or cellphone in a back pocket as well. It’s much easier to pickpocket the back pocket, than a front one. For women, make sure your purse has a shoulder strap and use it, carrying your purse cross-body, with one hand on the bag, so that they can’t just grab it and run or reach into it to grab your wallet.

These few precautions will help ensure that you have a Merry Christmas, and that you don’t help any of the local criminal population to have one. And as always, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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