Holidays mean travel but still protect your home and valuables
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: November 27, 2013
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Times
To many people the holidays mean travel and you can still protect your home and valuables although away from home, according to a Santa Paula Police spokesman.
Sgt. Jimmy Fogata said, “The SPPD wants everyone to have a great holiday season but unfortunately it is also a time that criminals know people are traveling,” leaving their homes vulnerable to theft.
Even before you leave home do report any emergency or suspicious activity you observe by calling 9-1-1.
“Always lock your vehicle,” said Fogata, as during the holiday period there are increased incidents of stolen valuables whether GPS, computers, cell phones, loose change, and CDs, easy pickings for thieves. Set your alarm and review the code for your Lo Jack system.... and never leave valuables in your vehicle.
Be very discreet about your plans for travel: Do not announce on your email auto response that you are on vacation with the dates you are leaving or returning.
“This includes both work and personal emails,” and Fogata said to use caution when sending auto response replies.
“They should contain as little information as possible,” such as “I am currently away and periodically checking my emails. If you need an immediate response,” give an alternative contact.
“Do not announce to the whole community that you will be gone on vacation,” or give updates of your travel via social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
Fogata said to keep such information as private as possible telling only family and trusted friends.
When you leave town notify SPPD that you’ll be gone and for how long; put a hold on your mail and newspaper subscriptions or have a neighbor pick them up promptly (that also goes for fliers, deliveries and packages).
Before you go check your home alarm system and make sure the security provider has current contact information for you and a close neighbor, friend of relative.
Unplug your garage door opener and lock the rails from the inside; make sure your all doors and windows of your home are locked. Secure bicycles, outdoor toys and your barbecue grill.
Time your lights and television or radio on a timer and don’t forget the exterior lights!
While you’re gone turn down the phone ringer, check your messages periodically or have someone pick them up so voice mail does not become full.
“Have a trusted friend or neighbor park a car in your driveway, put out your trash bins, bring them back in and just check your property in general,” said Fogata.
If you are traveling outside of the country visit http://travel.state.gov for travel advisory or warnings for that specific country or region you will visit.
Register your visit abroad with the nearest consulate or embassy at Smart Traveler. That way a government official can get a hold of you in an emergency, assist you if you are injured or the victim of a crime or alert you to changes in the country you are visiting that might alter your travel plans.
Avoid airport delays and that confusion at the airport before you go by visiting http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/
Be sure you are well versed on the culture of the country you are visiting to avoid gaffes. Check your health insurance as to its status while you are out of the country in advance so you can buy a supplemental plan if necessary. Ensure that your medication will be available and check with your physician about alternates.
Check what your cell phone and Internet access costs will be before you leave the country. Some options may include a phone card, pre-paid cell phone, or a temporary rental at your arrival destination.
Always-always!-check with your credit card company or bank to make sure your card will work in a foreign country. Refrain from using the debit option in another country.
Fogata said when making a purchase out of state or out of country, “Always check with the retailer on returns, refunds or exchanges. It’s best to shop at a recognized national or international chain or at a business that has a clear policy,” on returns, refunds and exchanges.
Unsolicited fliers left under the door at your hotel is a scam unless it has the hotel name and/or logo. Ask the desk clerk or concierge about such fliers as well as the best places to dine.
“And, when your trip is over and you return to Santa Paula,” Fogata said to notify the police you are back, resume your mail, subscriptions and newspaper delivery, inspect your property for any criminal activity and reactive the power for your garage door while making sure you have removed all exterior locking devices.
“Once you inspect all your billing statements to ensure their accuracy,” Fogata said, “You can relax.... and then get on Facebook or Twitter to post photos and brag about what about a great time you had!”