The holidays are an amazing time for family, friends, and cheer. However, some of us will be targeted by thieves this holiday season. Here at Royal Garage Door we want you to be as safe as possible! Some great tips we have read over the past week come from the people who would know how to stop criminals best, the Olathe Police Department. They have released two articles over Nextdoor, the free private social network for your neighborhood community. The first article was released on December 17 and was titled Holiday Safety Tips. Here is what the Olathe Police Department has to say:
- Don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window of your home so it’s easily visible from the street. Be sure to keep blinds and curtains COMPLETELY closed until after the holidays if you must have your tree in the front room of your home. It’s too tempting for a potential criminal to smash the window and grab the wrapped packages or plan a later break-in based on their earlier observation.
- Burglars know to look for the hidden door key near the front entrance. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to a trusted neighbor, keep it in the back of your home inconspicuously, or use your garage door with an outdoor code wall button. We also provide an awesome feature called Gateway that allows you to open your garage door with your phone with the right equipment.
- Burglars prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows. A holiday problem can occur when exterior Christmas light extension cords are run inside through a window and prevent it from being secured. Make sure all your doors and windows are properly secured.
- After Christmas day, don’t pile up empty gift boxes from your new computer, DVD player, or stereo receiver on the street for the garbage man. Burglars appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside for them to steal. Break the boxes down or cut them up to conceal the items better.We really like breaking down our boxes/folding them inside out and placing them in our recycling bins. The city of Olathe allows for two 90 gallon recycling bins free of charge! Tons of recycling space!
- Shop before dark if possible. Coordinate shopping trips with a friend. Never park in an unlit lot or area, no matter how convenient it is.Some stores are even staying open 24/7 until Christmas (Kohls). We want you all to be VERY careful shopping when so few people would be out and about to see or help you in distress. If you must be out, see if a store manager would watch you out to your car, carry mace/pepper spray, carry your keys through your fingers, or if qualified and licensed you should conceal and carry for personal protection if/when the store permits.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Pay for purchases with a check, credit card, or debit card when possible.Many stores even allow for payment through PayPal requiring only your ID and password which should be memorized.
- Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse under your arm or across your body. Keep a wallet in an inside jacket pocket, not a back pocket.For many people with children, large diaper bags are unavoidable and leaving the diaper bag in the car may draw more attention to thieves for a break in, so just be sure to keep it safely tucked in the shopping cart and thread the straps through the safety clips if possible.
- Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, “con- artists” may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.
- Thieves have their own kind of window shopping. They look in parked cars for gifts and other merchandise, and will break through car windows to get at such valuables. Lock your packages and gifts in your vehicle’s trunk and/or covered with a large blanket. Keep your vehicle’s doors locked and windows closed.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you believe someone is following you, cross the street, switch directions, walk into a store or restaurant. Call 9-1-1 on anything suspicious
- Finally, a tip from a commenter on the article is to be careful if you have your home on the market. Some realtors recommend not having open houses during the Holiday season while visitors would see all access points and presents.
The next article came out this morning, December 19th, titled Distraction Thefts. The Olathe Police Department wanted to point out that thieves are looking for an easy opportunity. Distraction thieves look for the easiest opportunity to commit a crime, such as a purse in a shopping cart or a wallet left on a table. Shoppers especially are vulnerable to these crimes. The thieves know that shoppers will be carrying cash, credit cards and checks for shopping. The following are some crime prevention tips to make your shopping trip as safe as possible. Some are repetitive from the previous article, but important to be repeated:
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Carry only what you need. Leave a large purse at home and carry a smaller billfold or long strap wallet purse that you can put over your neck and shoulder.
- Do not leave your purse or wallet unattended, even if just to walk over to pick up an item at the store. Thieves will often “shadow” their victim and remove the wallet or purse when the victim is distracted, even for only a few seconds. A criminal will also drive or walk by a victim in a parking lot and snatch their purse from a cart or off their person. If you must put it in the cart, use the child seats to strap it into the cart.
- Keep your wallet or purse closed at all times, using the latches and zippers. This will prevent a thief from walking by and grabbing items out of your purse or wallet.
- Call police if you see suspicious subjects in or around a shopping center. Notify security or a manager at the store if you see behaviors that are suspicious. Give good descriptions of subjects and vehicles (do not forget to obtain a license plate number if possible).
The Royal Garage Door Team wants to remind you that your garage could also become a target for theft. Always make sure you close your garage door during the holiday season. We offer a product called Gateway that links your garage door and wireless router that can send alerts to your cell phone and/or email to notify you when your garage door is opened or left open for varying times. Nakai, Eric, and Gary get notifications when their garage doors are left open for 30 minutes and 1 hour. This also helps with the hectic holiday travels and the never ending question on if you actually closed your garage door when you left.
With the cold, please also refrain from leaving your car running in the driveway. We know how difficult it can be with the cold, but this makes vehicle theft very easy, and leaves an open opportunity for thieves. We also know that with children you have to leave toys or presents in the trunk until an opportunity arises to quickly unload and wrap them without spouses or children seeing. However, we would highly advise against this if you do not have your car locked in your closed garage. Be sure to not give the thieves motif for breaking into your vehicle or home. Do not leave gift bags, purses, tablets, GPS’s, or anything of value in site when leaving your vehicle in parking lots or your driveway, and always double check you lock your vehicle! These same tips should be applied to your home. Always ensure that your valued personal possessions cannot be seen from the street through windows.
Other tips for the holidays include:
- Never post when you are planning on leaving your home, when you are already gone, and if you will be gone for an extended amount of time. Simply put, do not post your travel plans online! Think about how many people you are friends with on Facebook. If a friend comments or likes your post then all of their friends then have the potential to see your status as well since that friend is connected. This leaves your house empty for an easy opportunity for break-in.
- Be careful: December is the deadliest month for electrical fires. Between space heaters, holiday lights, and other holiday decorations, there is opportunity for electrical failure on items only used once a year that are not routinely inspected.
- Be safe with small flames and fire. Tis the season for yummy candles and a booming fireplace. Make sure candles are never lit near curtains or on table cloths that could be accidentally pulled by children or family members walking by. Also, be sure to remove stockings before lighting your fireplace. Please double check/install smoke detectors in all rooms of your homes.
- Unplug your holiday lights in sleeping hours. This will save on electricity and potentially save your family if an electrical fire is started in the middle of the night.
- Know what to do in case of a grease fire. Take extra precautions with turkey fryers (be sure the oil used to fry the turkey is the right temperature and always fry outside, in a well-ventilated area.) Don’t use water to extinguish a grease fire — instead, douse the fire with baking soda.
Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!
Royal Garage Door