Top 10 tips to prevent thieves from stealing your holiday cheer

The holiday season is filled with good will and fun times, but it’s also a prime time for thieves to take off with bundles of holiday joy. With shoppers running from store to store, leaving cars full of expensive gifts, parking lots can quickly become a treasure trove for thieves. Even in your own driveway, your car can tempt those looking for valuables left unattended. Remember that your car insurance policy will not cover the loose personal possessions inside your car (though your home insurance policy may).

Regardless, the year’s end is a good time to review your policy terms and compare car insurance rates to make sure you have the best premium with the coverage you need.

Keep your holiday gifts and your car safe with these 10 tips.

1. Keep packages in the trunk

If your car has a trunk, be sure to lock packages securely inside it rather than putting them in the back seat. This will keep them out of sight and inaccessible to those looking for an easy target.

2. Hide packages well

If you do not have a separate trunk, such as in a minivan or SUV, hide packages as best you can. Keep a blanket in the car to throw over packages so that someone walking by won’t be able to see at a glance what is inside.

3. Don’t leave tempting valuables in the car

Even if you are just running into the store for a quick purchase, take your cell phone, purse, and any other electronics or valuables into the store with you. An expert thief can be in your car and off with your valuables very quickly.

4. Never leave the car running

When it’s cold out, it can be tempting to leave the car running when you run into the grocery store for milk. But even if you lock your car doors while it’s running, your car will be a beacon for a car thief in the parking lot. Getting past the locks is the easy part for most thieves; it’s the safety systems making cars hard to start without the keys that are more difficult. Don’t leave an open invitation in the form of a running engine to avoid going through submitting a stolen car insurance claim.

5. Park in a busy area of the lot

Parking in the far end of the lot does make it easier to get in and out without fighting the traffic, but it also leaves your car vulnerable. With a lot of people coming and going near your car, a thief is less likely to chance getting caught breaking in.

6. Park in a well-lit area after dark

When you are shopping after dark, be sure to park as close to the parking lot lights as you can. Shadows provide those looking to break into a car an easy place to do their work. Think ahead; even if you arrive during daylight, consider how dark it might be when you come back to your car and park near the lights just in case.

7. Use unmarked reusable shopping bags

Not only are they good for the environment, reusable bags without brand names also don't allow people walking by to see what might be in them. For example, a shopping bag from an electronics store tells a potential thief that there might be something of value to steal. An unmarked bag is less likely to draw attention.

8. Don’t leave gifts in your car overnight

The car might be a good hiding place that prevents you from having to carry packages in past interested eyes, but it’s not a safe place to leave them overnight. Hide them in your locked garage – or if you really can’t bring them in, ask a neighbour if you can bring them over and leave them there until you can get them to a hiding spot in your home.

9. Aim for one-stop shopping

The more stores you stop at the more you will have to leave in your car as you go from place to place. Shopping all in one location and then heading straight home with your packages means you not only get that shopping done faster, but you don’t have to leave anything in the car.

10. Take packages straight to the post office

Once you have your gifts ready to ship to friends and family, get them out in the mail immediately.  Any packages forgotten in the back seat make an easy target for thieves who know holiday packages can contain valuable items.

Don’t let someone hijack your holiday treasures this year; keep your car safe and get your special holiday gifts home and under the tree for their lucky recipients. Shop carefully, avoid potential insurance claims, and make sure no one ruins your holiday cheer.

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