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Who's sneaking down your chimney this Christmas?

’Tis the season to be wary.  There’s more to worry about than whether to serve Pinot Noir or a Riesling with the turkey and who should sit next to crazy Aunt June at the holiday dinner.  There’s quite a bit more, as a matter of fact.

It’s a well-documented statistic that the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day in America.  Capitalists might love it and Christians might hate it, but what many of them don’t know is that thieves love it too.

Insurance companies warn policyholders of the increased risk of theft during the holiday shopping season.  Especially vulnerable are new purchases left unattended in cars that shoppers leave parked outside shopping centers.

Knowing that an increased volume of shoppers are out and about, it is easy for professional burglars to set the month-long window from Thanksgiving to Christmas as the peak of their season.  More cars stuffed with more presents cannot but encourage criminals to try their level best to keep gifts out of the intended hands.

Many buyers are also distracted with the tumult of this craziest time of year, and fail to take basic precautions such as locking car doors.  The best idea for average folks is to keep all your purchases with you as you shop; don’t leave heaping bags in the backseat while you cruise through one last department store.  If your arms are too full, come back another time (or maybe just save yourself a little bit of money—no, who are we kidding? come back another time).

But your presents might not be safe even when you get them home, tucked on the top shelf of the closet where Jimmy and Jane won’t find them.  Just like the crooks knew there were presents in the car, the crooks know there are presents in the house.  And crooks love presents.  Especially presents that someone else paid for.

Home burglaries are also more common during the Christmas shopping weeks.  Just as thieves trolling mall parking lots, burglars are drawn to the fresh loot, and make B&E their cup of tea.

There is some speculation that the end of Daylight Savings Time contributes to the increase in crime this time of year.  The extra hour of evening darkness is argued to provide cover for criminals who aren’t quite bold enough to swing their heists in the light of day.

For the few weeks around the winter solstice (the shortest days of the year), the sun sets before workers return home in many northern metropolises.  A vacant house, seasonal cover of darkness, and the promise of shiny new merchandise inside are an often-irresistible lure to thieves.

So take extra precautions this holiday season.  Lock the car, engage the security system, make sure windows are securely fastened, avoid hours-long shopping binges.  Make a list, and check it twice; you don’t want to find out who’s naughty, not nice; Santa Claus isn’t the only one coming to town.

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