Steer clear of prowlers and other grinches during holiday shopping

December 18, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. Dec. 18, 2010

The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping is in high gear.

Shoppers rushing from store to store should use caution, because thieves tend to prowl parking lots in search of a hot deal. The grinches often prey on inattentive shoppers.

The nonprofit NW Insurance Council urges shoppers to take extra precautions during trips and be wary of prowlers on the hunt to snatch gifts from unattended vehicles.

The council is a public education and media relations trade association funded by member insurance companies in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Use the following tips to keep yourself — and your gifts —safe during holiday shopping jaunts:

  • Whenever possible, store gifts and other valuables in the trunk. If the trunk is unavailable, toss a blanket over gifts before you leave your vehicle unattended.
  • Remember to double-check to make sure you locked the doors.
  • Manually lock your vehicle’s doors. Do not use your remote locking device. Some high-tech thieves use scanning devices to record remote lock frequencies to unlock vehicles.
  • Do not leave other valuable items in plain sight. Such items — including mobile phones, laptop computers and other high-end electronic equipment — can make your vehicle a more tempting target.
  • Do not head back and forth frequently from stores to your vehicle to unload gifts. Prowlers watch for shoppers who leave gifts in their unattended vehicles.
  • Remember to park in well-lit areas.
  • Consider installing a vehicle alarm system or another anti-theft device.

If you have with optional comprehensive coverage on auto insurance policy, your vehicle is covered if stolen.

But your auto policy does not cover gifts and most personal possessions stolen from your car.

Your homeowners or renters policy covers your belongings, including gifts, but only after you pay the deductible.

“Unless it’s permanently attached to your car, most auto insurance policies don’t cover your personal belongings,” NW Insurance Council President Karl Newman said. “As always, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches by taking steps ahead of time to reduce the risk of a break-in.”

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