Planning & Advice

Avoid Theft On Vacation

Avoid Theft On Vacation

I got up early one bright and sunny morning to take my dog for a leisurely walk. As we came up to a couple of small dumpsters, I spotted a purse with its contents strewn around it. I sighed, thinking of the person who had been victim to a possible purse-snatching. The perpetrator had been pretty thorough. The wallet was relieved of all cash, ID and credit cards. Only the register remained of the checkbook. There were a couple of membership cards left, an emergency car key, and one of those Hallmark calendar/date books and, of course, sundry items of comb and brush.

With a name gleaned from a membership card and a business card with a city on it, I managed to get on-line and hit the white pages. Sure enough, I was able to get an address and phone number for the owner of the purse. I gave the woman a call and left a message.

It’s so sad that this woman’s visit to San Francisco will be marred with the loss of her purse and possibly her identity. I know I can relate to what she is probably feeling. I can’t give her back what is lost, but I can let her know that there are still GOOD people in the world.

This brings me to some tips of how to protect yourself when traveling or even in your home city.

1. If you are carrying a purse, keep it across your shoulder, tucked under your arm. This will make it more difficult for a thief to grab the strap and yank it off you as they run or drive by. I’ve seen this done by men on motorcycles. The momentum of the snatch can also cause injury to you. If at all possible, carry a purse that is zippered with a flap. Never leave it open or unattended. That is an invitation to a criminal.

2. Men should always keep their wallet in a front pants pocket. This makes it more difficult for a pick-pocket to relieve you of your wallet.

3. Never carry more than you need in the way of cash, credit cards and ID (Visa/Passport). If at all possible, limit yourself to one credit card. Leave the rest at home or in your hotel’s safe. This way, should you lose your purse or wallet, you will have a back-up safe. With identity theft is always a possibility, it would also be a good idea not to carry any bills or receipts as a thief will use any information about you to their advantage.

4. Never leave valuables in your car. Out of state license plates attract thieves. They know you will possibly have suitcases, cameras and equipment, I-Pods, DVD players, Gameboys, laptops, briefcases, sports equipment in your trunk, if not in plain sight. Parking your car in a paid parking garage doesn’t mean your valuables will be any safer. . Criminals will stake out parking garages and lots, watching and waiting. Once they spot their target, they will use a “Slim Jim” or not hesitate to smash a window to gain entry to your vehicle.(This was how the lady whose purse I had found had been taken.) Most garages and lots will take no liability should your vehicle be broken into and your valuables stolen or damages to your vehicle.

5. This is the most important tip: Always be aware of your surroundings! Especially on public transportation and crowded areas (IE: restaurants, stores, malls, waiting lines and restrooms). Pay attention to the people around you. Thieves tend to work in pairs; where one distracts you, the other is relieving you of your valuables. If they always seem to be near you, they have probably targeted you. Check the security of your purse or wallet. Should they seem to be getting too close to your personal space, loudly announce to them that they are. They don’t like having attention brought to them and will generally make a hasty retreat.

There are many other ways of protecting yourself and your valuables. I have only touched on some of them here.