Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
It is that time of the year again. The snow and cold weather have left us and the warmer weather is here for most of us around the world. That means that summer is coming and schools will be letting students out for the summer vacation. This also means that summer trips are being planned either for the day, for the week or even a month. However while you are planning your vacation please remember to plan some crime prevention as well. These tips are just as valuable when planning winter vacations as well.
Here are some helpful tips to protect you and your family while traveling this summer.
People love to post on social media all about their upcoming vacations and love to post the pictures of their vacations as well. This is also great information for criminals. Criminals are not just strangers but can also be family members and “trusted friends” as sad as that is to say, it’s true. I say this because even if you have your social media posts set to private so only friends and relatives can see them, like on Facebook, it gives them the information they need to rob your home while you are gone. If you must talk about an upcoming vacation, do not give the dates or how long you will be gone and wait until you return home to post the photos of your vacation on your social media site.
Make photocopies of your driver license, credit cards, medical insurance cards, and travelers’ checks. Keep a copy at home and keep a copy on you while on vacation but keep them away from your actual credit cards, important identification and travelers’ checks. These will come in handy if your wallet or purse is stolen.
If you have an alarm system in your home, arm it before you leave. Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked and set timers on lights, radio, and television to go on and off at certain times and have your mail or newspaper stopped being delivered while you are away. Nothing says you are not home better than a pile of delivered newspapers or a mailbox stuffed with mail. At least have a neighbor, friend or relative retrieve these daily for you. For winter vacationers, have someone shovel your sidewalk and driveway for you.
Let your local police agency, neighborhood watch group and neighbors know when you will be one and when you will be returning so they can keep an extra eye on your property.
Do not bring all of your cash with you on daily outings while on vacation. Just take what you will need for the day and leave the rest locked up in your hotel or motel safe, along with other valuables. Avoid bringing cash altogether on your vacation if you can. Use credit cards and travelers’ checks. If you must bring cash, do not flash a lot of big bills. Keep your money in small denominations.
Whenever possible always park in a well-lit area of a parking lot and as lose to your destination as possible. Do not leave your purse or other valuable items in your car in plain sight. Cover them with a blanket on the floor of the backseat or better yet, lock them up in your trunk.
Do not leave your car running and unattended and if you are lost, do not pull over to the side of a road to look at a map. Go to a well-lit public area first. The same goes for talking or texting on your cellphone.
When in an unfamiliar city or tourist area, ask your hotel personnel for which areas to avoid while out for the day. Your hotel is a valuable resource for crime prevention. When checking into a hotel and going to your room, make a mental note of emergency exits and stairwells.
When you have to use an ATM to get cash out, be wary of your surroundings. Look around to be sure no one is near you and check the ATM device itself. Play with the part where you put your card in. If it is loose, do not use it. Chances are criminals have installed something called a “skimmer”. This is a device that will read and copy your card number so criminals can access it later. If there is a loose or broken card reader, let the bank or the police know immediately so they can check it.
Summer and winter vacations can be fun but only if you take the necessary steps to protect yourself, your family, and your valuables. Be aware. Be vigilant. Take the extra step to be careful so you can enjoy your vacation with peace of mind.