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Don't let thieves ruin your Christmas cheer

Last Updated Dec 25, 2019 at 8:09 am PST

Farm decorated with Christmas lights. (iStock Photo)

There are things you can do to protect yourself to ensure you don't get robbed this holiday season

Police say it's a good idea to take any Christmas packaging, boxes to the recycling depot and not leave them curbside

If you're planning some Boxing Day shopping, don't leave valuables in your car and make sure you watch for pick-pockets

WEST VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Thieves will be doing their Christmas shopping now that you’ve opened your presents. Police say many times criminals will stalk neighbourhoods and pounce once you’ve wrapped up your festivities.

There are things you can do to protect yourself to ensure you don’t get robbed. One of the problems is people make it easy to spot what they got, and they do that by putting out the empty boxes in which their new presents came.

West Vancouver Police Constable Kevin Goodmurphy says it’s pretty simple — don’t do that. “If you’re leaving those out curbside for everyone to see, that includes those that may be recognizing you have nice new things after Christmas, and may be looking to break in and try to take those things. If you can, drive those directly to the recycling depot.”

Also, if you’re not really home, make sure your place looks lived in — meaning keep the lights on. Goodmurphy also suggests getting a neighbour to park their car in your driveway and to pick up your mail while you’re away.

“Often people are excited about their upcoming trips and they’re counting down the days that they’re going to be lying on a sunny beach somewhere and they’re posting all over social media, it’s just not a good idea [if] you’re going to be away for an extended period of time.”

He’s also warning about distraction thefts right now — that’s when someone tells you some sort of bogus story, but in fact they’re taking your wallet or a debit or credit card from your wallet without you knowing.

“The traditional old style of pick-pocketing that you would think of someone bumping into you and putting their hand in your pocket isn’t necessarily typical but it’s something to be aware of. So, have your purses in front of you if you’re carrying a purse or a bag with your personal belongings in it, such as a wallet or cellphone, and if you can, move your wallets to some front pockets. For me, personally, when I’m carrying my wallet, I usually carry it in a front pocket. I just feel safer and more comfortable knowing it’s toward the front versus behind and maybe easier to grab out of a pocket.”

If you’re not happy with the Christmas gifts you received or just can’t get enough shopping done and you’re thinking about hitting up the malls on Boxing Day, there are more safety tips to be aware of.

“Don’t leave anything of value in your vehicle. So, when you’re making your trips from store to store and making your purchases, do your best to not leave it locked in your vehicle and again especially don’t leave it in the vehicle in plain view because all it takes is an easy window break and in a matter of seconds somebody is away with your brand new shiny electronics and things you worked hard for.”

When parking outside the shops, make sure to leave your car in a well-lit area and where it’s busy.

“Consider shopping with reusable bags so you’re concealing any sort of branding of any higher end items,” explains Goodmurphy. “If you do need to leave valuables in your vehicle, do your best to lock those in the trunk and if you can, disable the internal trunk lock mechanism.”

It may seem obvious but he also suggests not carrying a lot of cash on you and if you’re going to use plastic, then hide your PIN.