Steer clear of crime during the holidays

December 10, 2013 12:00 AM

An old adage says it's better to give than to receive, but too much giving can have you spending plenty of time in retail parking lots and loading up a vehicle with bags of new purchases. Unfortunately, this can lead to drivers becoming the victim of a crime. That's why HEAT - or Help Eliminate Auto Thefts - released advice for drivers to keep in mind this holiday season. 

"December marks the busiest time of year for most consumers as they shop and cross items off their to-do lists, but don't let that distract you from keeping your vehicle and possessions safe," said Terri Miller, executive director of HEAT. "The holiday season is always a special time of year, but many consumers become careless and vulnerable to theft and holiday crime. It's important to remain diligent and be aware of your surroundings." 

Here are a few additional tips for keeping your car and your purchases safe during the holidays: 

Ask for help 
If you're ever in a situation where you would like assistance, don't hesitate to ask for help. For example, retail associates at a store can accompany you to your car and help carry purchases out. A professional at an auto repair franchise may also be able to assist you by providing advice for maneuvering your car or using helpful features with ease. 

Stay alert
When walking to your car in a parking lot, make sure you are staying alert and focused on the task at hand. Don't spend time talking on a cellphone, fumbling for keys or trying to complete any other actions that take your attention off your vehicle. Instead, locate your keys before leaving the store and be ready to unlock the car as you approach. It is a good idea to bring a vehicle in for a tune up before you hit the shops, as this allows you to ensure features like door locks, remote starters and all keys are working properly. 

Don't prioritize the car
Your car is a big investment, but when it comes down to it, safety is more important. If you find yourself in a situation where you and a vehicle are threatened, always give up the car. You have insurance that can cover the cost associated with theft, but other issues are certainly more difficult to manage.

Similarly, when you park a car in a parking lot or driveway, take the time to get your kids or other passengers out first, as their safety is secondary to any purchases. Don't leave anyone in a car while you shop, even if you have faith in the security system. 

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