The crooks who stole Christmas: don't let holiday "grinches" stop your Christmas from coming



    BURNABY, BC, Dec. 13 /CNW/ - Bah-humbug, you say? Well, that might be
exactly what you'll be saying if opportunistic thieves find their way into
your home or vehicle this holiday season. According to BCAA Insurance, this
time of year, vehicle and home owners are particularly vulnerable to theft, as
enterprising thieves seek out easy loot to brighten their own celebrations.
    "More consumer activity makes this time one of the busiest times for
insurance theft claims," says Brooke Hanson, BCAA's home insurance product
manager. "Much of property crime is opportunistic and there is no shortage of
opportunity right now. Christmas shoppers can also make it easy for thieves -
either by leaving bags full of presents in their cars while they continue
shopping or stacking them early under the tree.
    "What's more, many presents are high in value, but also light and
portable, making them ideal targets for thieves," adds Hanson, referring to
the ten most stolen items reported to BCAA's claim department: jewellery,
digital cameras, home theatre equipment, MP3 players/iPods, CDs, DVDs, cash,
gift certificates, video games, and computer equipment.
    Over the 2006-07 holiday season, the average theft claim made to BCAA
Insurance was in excess of $3,200 - a loss that would sour most holiday
celebrations. And if you're going to be hit over the holidays, your risk is
highest on December 15 or January 1, according to claim data spanning over the
past five years. These dates, explains Hanson, correlate to peak shopping
activity, days before Christmas and when familes may be returning home from a
trip to discover their homes and vehicles broken into.
    Regardless of seasonal distractions, this is the time to be extra
vigilant with your possessions, and remain on high-alert for suspicious
activity. BCAA recommends home and vehicle owners take the following
precautions:

    
    -   Don't leave any valuables visible in your car, or even in your trunk.
        Thieves can spot items being loaded into a trunk from across the
        street or parking lot. Try to park in well lit and high traffic
        areas.

    -   Take extra precautions if you're headed south of the border to do
        your Christmas shopping. Thieves are well aware that the high
        Canadian dollar is driving B.C. bargain-hunters south to U.S.
        shopping malls, and know that cars bearing B.C. license plates may be
        full of gifts.

    -   Beware of strangers approaching you. Con artists may try various
        schemes to distract you, with the intention of nabbing your cash or
        parcels.

    -   Make sure you don't have any Christmas presents on display in a room
        that can be easily seen from the outside.

    -   Don't place packing cartons outside your door or at the curb. Thieves
        can quickly tell from your recycling or garbage whether new valuables
        are inside.

    -   Think about installing an alarm and motion-sensor lights around your
        home to deter burglars.

    -   If you are away for the holidays, make your home appear lived in. Ask
        a trusted neighbour to park in your driveway on occasion to make it
        look as if you're home, and either stop your mail delivery or have a
        friend or neighbour collect it.
    

    "The least you can do to make sure your Christmas doesn't get 'robbed' by
thieves is to ensure you have sufficient coverage in place as part of your
home insurance policy," concludes Hanson.
    Home and vehicle owners are also advised to consult their insurance
broker to make sure newly purchased items, or items such as jewellery that
might only get used at this time of year, are covered for theft or loss.

    BCAA Insurance is one of the largest providers of home, auto, travel
medical and life insurance in B.C. BCAA insures over 100,000 homes in the
province and receives an 80 per cent total satisfaction rating with the
overall claims process - 40 per cent higher than the industry average. Each
year, BCAA sells more travel insurance than any other provider in B.C. To
learn more about the products and services offered by BCAA Insurance, visit
www.bcaa.com.





For further information:

For further information: Brooke Hanson, Insurance Product Manager, BCAA
Insurance Services, Tel: (604) 268-5590, E-mail: brooke.hanson@bcaa.com;
Jennifer Timm, Advisor, Media Relations, Tel: (604) 268-5342, Cell: (778)
228-8859, E-mail: jennifer.timm@bcaa.com


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