Holiday Safety

The Tobey Team likes to give back to the community, and one way is to provide you with useful monthly Real Estate information. Enjoy the upcoming holiday season, but don’t forget to be safe.
Did you know from now until New Year’s Day that crimes will increase THREE TIMES the average monthly crime rate? The top three crimes during this time period will be:
Automobile Break-in
Home Invasion
Identity Theft
Normally identity theft is the number one crime; however most people won’t know this until after the holiday season if their security has been breached. Here are a few tips:
Automobile Safety
Never leave anything of value visible in your automobile.
If you are doing holiday shopping and put gifts in the trunk pull away and drive to a different parking spot so a thief thinks you have left the area.
Park in well-lit areas.
Do not park next to shrubs, walls or large vehicles especially if you cannot see in the vehicle next to you.
When walking to your car, walk around the vehicle to ensure no one is hiding inside or behind your vehicle.
As with all times of the year don’t drink and drive, text, or email while driving.
Home Invasion
Keep the outside of your home well lit.
Consider using timers on lamps, and keep window treatments closed.
After the holidays cut up cardboard boxes or take to the recycling center so you are not broadcasting to criminals all the new toys you received over the holidays.
Take extra caution of your social media posts. Advertising what parties you are going to, when you will be visiting family, or taking a holiday vacation is another way of inviting criminals and letting them know where there is an unoccupied home.
Let your local police know if you will be out of town, most local police will do random drive-by checks. Also be sure to stop your mail, newspapers, and let your neighbors know you will be out of town.
Identity Theft
If ordering gifts online, be sure you are on a secured site before providing any personal or payment information (you can search the internet for ways to validate you are on a secure site).
If possible, do not leave outbound mail in your mailbox. Take it to the post office or a secure mailbox.
Check your mailbox often, thieves know your credit card invoices come at the first and middle of the month.
General Safety at Holiday Time
Don’t carry excessive cash or credit cards if you don’t have to.
Shop with friends.
Put your wallet in your front pocket and be sure to secure your purse.
When giving your credit card to a checkout clerk be sure you get your credit card back.
Fireplace Safety
Fireplaces can add so much character and love to a house. They represent warmth and closeness—two of the most desired qualities of a home. As great as they are, fireplaces can also be very dangerous.
According to the United States Fire Administration, fires lit for warmth (in fireplaces or in wood stoves) are the cause for 36% of home fires in rural areas each year. One of the main reasons this statistic is so high is because homeowners neglect to subject fireplaces and stoves to routine maintenance.
Here are some tips from the USFA to keep your fireplace just as safe as it is warm and cozy:
Have a professional come clean and inspect your chimney at least once a year.
When a fire is burning, make sure it is covered by a mesh screen. If your fireplace also has glass doors, make sure they are open when the fire is burning. Close them when the fire is out.
Keep flue temperatures in check by using stovepipe thermometers.
Keep adequate ventilation systems installed in your home.
Have several smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide detector in your home, and test them monthly. Change the batteries yearly.