'Twas the crime before Christmas: Don't let grinches ruin your holidays

BURNABY, BC, Dec. 17 /CNW/ - Many British Columbians will unfortunately learn that the "clatter on the lawn" may be not be Santa this Christmas, but the sound of a vehicle or home being broken into. With some good security sense however, BCAA is confident that home and vehicle owners can avoid grinches looking to steal Christmas this year.

According to BCAA Insurance, the average theft claim over the holidays is around $3,000 - an amount that would instantly sour anyone's Christmas spirit.

"Theft is mostly opportunistic and there is no shortage of opportunity around the holidays with a combination of heightened shopping activity and people leaving their homes for vacation," explains Brooke Hanson, BCAA's home insurance product manager.

"Anything left visible in your car, home or even your garbage is perceived as bait for criminals and could cost you, especially if little Billy got an Xbox and Suzy got an iPhone."

BCAA claims data shows many holiday losses are high in value, light and portable making them ideal for thieves seeking an easy cash sale. The ten most stolen items reported to BCAA's claim department include: jewellery, digital cameras, home theatre equipment, iPods, CDs, DVDs, cash, gift certificates, video games, and computer equipment.

Regardless of the seasonal hustle and bustle, 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.
       Out of sight isn't always out of mind. Thieves can spot items being
       loaded into a trunk from across the street or parking lot. Also try to
       park in well lit and high traffic areas.

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

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

    -  Refrain from placing packing boxes outside your door or at the curb.
       Thieves can quickly tell from your recycling what you now own inside.

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

    -  If you are going away, make your home appear lived in. Ask a trusted
       neighbour to park in your driveway on occasion, and either stop your
       mail delivery or have a friend or neighbour collect it.

    -  Beware of identity thieves. Keep an eye on credit and debit cards when
       handing them to a store clerk or food server, and be mindful of how
       long they keep the card. Also use trusted, secure websites when
       purchasing items on-line. Look for a padlock or key symbol, typically
       located on the bottom corner of the screen.

Home and vehicle owners are also advised to consult their insurance agent to make sure newly purchased items, or items such as special jewellery that might only get used at this time of year, are covered for theft or loss.

About BCAA

BCAA is dedicated to meeting the needs of its members and customers throughout B.C. and the Yukon, connecting them with a team of membership, automotive, travel and insurance professionals. With nearly 790,000 members and $130 million in revenues, BCAA is the largest organization of its kind in B.C. and the fourth largest CAA-affiliated association in Canada. For the past three years, BCAA was named one the 50 Best Employers in Canada by international HR consultants Hewitt Associates and the Globe & Mail's Report on Business magazine. In addition, BCAA Insurance has been awarded the "Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Home Insurance Providers" by consumer research group, J.D. Power and Associates. To learn more about BCAA's products, services and member advocacy, visit www.bcaa.com. For more information on the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation visit www.tsf-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, BCAA Media Relations, Tel: (604) 268-5342, Cell: (778) 228-8859, E-mail: jennifer.timm@bcaa.com

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