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Vacation Crime Prevention Tips

posted Jun 23, 2011, 7:18 AM by Sunset Ridge   [ updated Jun 23, 2011, 7:54 AM ]

Before leaving on vacation, make sure your home is secure.  Have good locks on all doors and windows, and use them.  Make sure your home looks lived in, and not empty.  Leave all shades and blinds in a normal position.  Ask a neighbor to watch your residence while you are away.  Leave your vacation address and phone number with a neighbor so you can be reached in case of emergency.  Make sure you test your smoke and burglar alarms.  Arrange for a neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers.  Have your neighbor place one of his garbage cans at your curb on your normal pick up days.  Plug in times to turn lights and radio or TV on and off at appropriate times.  Close and lock garage doors and windows.  Ask a neighbor to occasionally park his car in your driveway.  Consider taking valuables that you are not taking with you to a bank safety deposit box.

ON THE ROAD

Never carry large amounts of cash.  Use traveler’s checks.  If you must carry cash, do not display it openly.  Keep a record of traveler’s checks numbers and your credit card numbers in a safe place.  Have the telephone numbers to call in case your checks or credit cards are lost or stolen.  Be aware of your surroundings and never advertise your plans to strangers.  Do not stop to offer help to a stranded motorist.  Go to the nearest telephone and call for assistance.  If you suspect someone is following you, drive to the nearest service station or business and call the police.  If you believe it is unsafe for you to get out of your car, sound your horn and flash your lights to draw attention.  If your car breaks down, raise the hood and attach a white flag to the antenna or door handle.  If someone stops to help, it is advisable that you stay in your locked car and ask them to call the police or garage.  Do not carry your airline tickets or passport in open view.  Be very careful with bus, train or airplane tickets.  They are as good as cash.  Males are advised to carry their wallets in an inside pocket or front trouser pocket.  Females are advised to carry their purse under their arm.  Take a picture of the suitcases and keep the picture with you.  It may be helpful in identifying your luggage if it is lost by an airline.  While traveling, be sure your luggage is locked.  Label each piece of luggage with your name and business address.

CAR SECURITY

Always lock your car after entering or leaving it.  Park in well-lighted areas.  Check your back seat before entering your vehicle.  Always lock valuables out of sight, preferably in the trunk.  Always carry your wallet, checkbooks and purses with you.  Do not advertise that you are a tourist.  Place maps and travel brochures in the glove compartment.

HOTEL AND MOTEL SECURITY

Never leave money, checks, credit cards, car keys or valuables in the room.  Take them with you.  Keep a daily check of your belongings.  Place extra cash, expensive jewelry or other valuables in the hotel/motel safe.  When unpacking, arrange your things so you’ll know if anything is missing or has been disturbed.  Suitcases should always be locked so that they can’t be used to carry items out of your room.

SIGHT-SEEING

Ask for directions at a hotel or motel on how to get to those attractions you want to visit.  If you are going out in an unfamiliar area, ask the clerk if there are areas you should avoid.  Don’t advertise you are a tourist.  Don’t look lost or vulnerable.  If you get lost, find an open business and ask for directions.  Only carry the cash you will need, and in small denominations.

CHECKING IN

Always make reservations ahead of time and secure them with a credit card.  If your room is not ready when you attempt to check in, ask to store your luggage in a locked room.  Woman traveling alone should sign their name in a gender neutral fashion by using only the first initial and last name, such as M. Johnson.   Request a room that does not have easy access to its windows, such as from the roof or street.  Request a room away from stairwells, elevators, ice machines, vending machines, basements or garbage/refuse rooms.

VALUABLES

If you have valuables or important documents – Passport or airline tickets, store them in a safety deposit box.  If there is no safe, consider a money belt or a portable safe such as hollowed out books, suitcases with secret compartments, etc.  Keep your room key in a safe place.  Request a room key that does not have your room number on it.  Do not leave magazines around your room or the pool that have your home address on it.  Ask the front desk staff for the safest areas for jogging, walking, shopping, etc.  After your room has been made, hang the “Do not Disturb” sign on the outside doorknob when you leave your room, and leave a light and radio on.  These discourage burglars.

From Joel Morganstern, "Have a Happy & a Safe Summer"

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