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During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, the number of purse thefts and vehicle break-ins normally increase. Owners sometimes leave vehicles unlocked while shopping or parked at home, providing easy targets for thieves.

What steps can you take to prevent becoming a victim?

  • Purses are often stolen from shopping carts at stores or from dressing rooms and other areas where a purse may be left for a moment. NEVER leave your purse unattended. When using a shopping cart, if you must place your purse in the cart be sure all pockets and openings are closed, zipped and fastened. If the cart has an infant seatbelt or strap, use it to secure the purse to the cart.
  • When walking with your purse, use the strap to wrap the purse around your shoulder or otherwise hold the purse firmly in front of your body. Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid people who seem suspicious or who may be watching you.
  • Remove visible items from your vehicle. If you leave items visible in your car, you are a target. Be aware that someone may be watching as you put a wallet, purse, or cell phone under your seat. Take these with you. Employers often have policies that prevent employees from bringing their purses or bags into the workplace. If so, discuss the matter with your employer and request an area be dedicated for personal property storage.
  • Lock up! Lock your vehicle and take your keys, even for quick errands. Lock the trunk, hatchback, or tailgate to block access into the car. Close all windows, vents, and sunroofs.
  • If possible, place purchases from stores in the vehicle trunk and not inside on the seats where a burglar can plainly see it.
  • Park safely. At home, park in your garage if you have one. Lock your car and all garage doors. When you park outside, park in a well-lit area. Check to see that your vehicle is visible from pedestrian and vehicular traffic. After parking, take a moment to look around your car and assess your surroundings for vulnerabilities.
  • Install an alarm and use it! Many people believe that alarms no longer make a difference, however they do remain an effective deterrent. Criminals will choose the easiest target. If they have two cars to choose from—one with an alarm and one without—they will burglarize the one without.
  • Install lighting controls. Install motion sensors or photocell lights on the exterior of your garage if you park in your driveway or on the street. Motion sensors will trigger the light to come on when it senses activity in the immediate area. Photocell lights automatically turn on at dusk and off at dawn.

What items are most commonly stolen from vehicles?

  • Purses, wallets, briefcases, packages, mail, medications, computers, cell phones, CD players, gym bags, cash, jewelry, and vehicle parts. When shopping, store packages and bags inside your trunk. Thieves often target mall parking lots.

How can a vehicle break-in lead to a home burglary?

  • If a garage door opener or a house key is inside the vehicle, a thief can then gain easy access to your home. He only needs to locate your address, which is found on your registration or loose mail.

Some guidelines to prevent home burglaries after a vehicle break in:

  • Do not leave outgoing or incoming mail in your car.
  • Avoid leaving your garage door opener in your car or lock it up inside the glove box.
  • Keep the vehicle registration and other important documents locked inside the glove box.
  • Never leave your house keys in your car.

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