Holiday Crime

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

The holiday season has finally arrived; a time of joy for some and not so much joy for others. But even for those who see it as a time of joy, the joy is not always equal. For you and I, that joy is based around family, friends, good food and presents. But for others, the joy is in knowing that this is the most profitable time of year to be a thief.

FBI statistics show that the incidents of home and auto break-ins, increase dramatically between the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s largely due to the fact that those who perpetrate those crimes know that their chances of stealing something that they can make good money on is higher now, than it is at other times of year. If a burglar breaks into your home in the middle of the summer and steals something, they can only sell it to a fence, for a fraction of the retail value. But if they steal the same thing, brand new and in the box, wrapped up as a Christmas gift, they can probably take it back to some store for a “refund,” making themselves a nice Christmas bonus.

Granted, if you don’t already have your home secured from break-in, it’s probably a bit late to do anything about it for this year; but there are a few important measures we all should take, making things a little bit harder for the thieves and a little bit more secure for ourselves.

To start with, don’t make it obvious that you have anything that’s worth stealing. Presents under the tree look great; but you don’t want people to be able to see them through the window. Put the tree in the window so that people can see it from outside and let that tree block their view, so that they can’t see what goodies are under the tree.

Boxes by the trash are another thing that thieves look for, especially big boxes for expensive items like big-screen TVs. That’s always a good find for a thief, the bigger the better. Hiding those boxes can be difficult, but you can always cut them up and stuff them in the trash can or a big black bag.

Keeping things out of view goes much farther than just around the tree. Mall parking lots are well-known as a bonanza for burglars who prefer to break into cars, instead of breaking into houses. Many people stack their purchases in the back seat, where they can be seen through the windows. Better to put them in the trunk; not only can’t they be seen then, but it’s a whole lot harder to get to them to steal them.

SUVs and pickup trucks can be problematic in this regard, as it is considerably harder to hide things in them. Some of the newer SUVs come with cargo area covers, which are great if you use them; but not all do. Still you can improvise fairly well with a tarp or blanket. They’ll still know that something is there; but they won’t know what those bulges under the blanket are. That might be enough to encourage them to go find another vehicle, where they are more sure of their pickings.

By the way, shopping bags for high dollar stores are an invitation to those thieves as well. If they see a bag from Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue, they’ll know there’s something expensive inside. From their viewpoint, the odds of making money of breaking into that car are greater than breaking into a car with Wal-Mart bags in it, unless they see something of value sticking out of those Wal-Mart bags.

Then there’s the scourge of online shopping, porch pirates, one of the newer criminal games. People will tell you that adding video cameras will keep your packages safe, but that’s not true. All those cameras are going to do is give you evidence to turn over to the police; and that evidence will probably show that the thief had a hood pulled over their head and knew to keep their head down, so that the camera couldn’t catch their face. That won’t get your stolen goods back.

The real trick to defeating porch pirates is keeping your deliveries out of sight. That either means getting them off the porch quickly or making sure there’s something on the porch for the delivery driver to hide the package behind. If your porch doesn’t have a low brick wall, then you need to add something there. One of those security boxes for the driver to put the package in is ideal; but a large planter or two, with space behind the planter to hide packages is just about as good.

It’s all about keeping your gifts out of sight. These crimes are pre-mediated in the sense of the criminals going out and try to find things to steal. But the actual crimes are crimes of opportunity, as the homes and cars they steal from are ones where they see an opportunity. Deny them the visible evidence of an opportunity and they’ll probably leave you alone.

That’s a whole lot better than having to pull a gun on a thief; you never know just how that will work out. Even so,  it’s a good idea to be ready; so keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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