Cars full of Christmas shopping are a tempting target for thieves. (Photo credit: Pixabay)

Cars full of Christmas shopping are a tempting target for thieves. (Photo credit: Pixabay)

Keep the Grinch away from holiday gifts this Christmas season

Whether they’re in your car or in your home, Christmas gifts are a tempting target for thieves

With the holiday season here, and people getting into the gift-giving spirit, the RCMP are reminding everyone to protect themselves from having a Grinch ruin their Christmas.

People who are out holiday shopping at malls and stores often make several stops as they do so, and leave their purchases in their vehicles. You should avoid making multiple trips to your car to drop off purchases, as thieves might be watching.

If you’re leaving items in your car, store them where they can’t be seen from outside the vehicle; advice which goes for anything valuable inside your car, such as electronic devices (including smartphones, laptops, tablets, GPS units, satellite radios, and dash cams). You may think nothing of leaving a pair of sunglasses visible in your car, but they can be worth up to $200. Even leaving some loose change in plain sight can tempt a thief. Drivers should also be aware that the contents of their vehicle are not covered by insurance.

It should go without saying that you should lock your car, but police report that nearly 50 per cent of thefts from vehicles involve unlocked cars. Many thefts from cars are crimes of opportunity; if a car is locked, all but the most determined thieves will probably move on to an easier target.

With cold weather here, it can be tempting to leave your car running with the keys in the ignition while you pop into a shop. Even if you think your vehicle is secure, unscrupulous thieves can often make away with it in the few minutes you’re absent. Many communities also have anti-idling bylaws which restrict the amount of time that you can leave your vehicle parked and running.

Once you get your gifts home, reduce temptation by making sure your tree, and the presents underneath it, is not visible from outside, especially if it is on the ground floor. Resist the urge to post to social media about the gifts you are getting or have got, and once everything has been unwrapped dispose of the packaging right away, so potential thieves cannot tell precisely what Santa Claus left. If you receive big ticket items, take pictures and record any serial numbers.

Do not run external Christmas lights to an indoor plug through a window or door. The little wedge of space left by the cord is all someone needs to pry their way in. And do not leave a note on your door saying no one is in if you have to go out but are expecting a parcel to be delivered; contact the company and arrange another delivery address.

Make sure your doors are locked, even when you are at home, which is especially important if you are at the back of the house and cannot monitor who is going in and out. Keep the outside of the house well-lit: if you do not have a security light that is triggered by movement, turn your outside lights on at night when you turn off the Christmas lights.

If you have an automatic garage door, take the opener out of your car if the vehicle is parked outside. If you are not using your automatic garage door for some reason, consider disconnecting it until you need to use it again, so no one can gain access to your garage and house.

If you are planning on being away over the holiday season, do not post the dates of your absence on social media, and ask a neighbour to check on your house periodically. It’s also a good idea to ask someone to shovel your driveway and clear the snow off any vehicles parked in your driveway if there is a snowfall; an unshovelled drive is a good indication there is no one in.

For more tips to protect your property from theft, go to the B.C. RCMP’s seasonal tips page (

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