Personal Finance

Avoid Being A Victim of Theft

Each of us has a personal reason for saving money. I very much doubt that any of us does so just to be able to brag about having died with the most money in the bank. Whether you are frugal because you need to be frugal in order to make ends meet, or you pursue economical purchases because getting a good deal is a challenge, we all try to spend wisely so that we will have more money when we need it or when we want it.

In the spectrum of ways that we can decrease the money that we do have, nothing is worse than having your money or things of value stolen. If you make a bad purchase, you still have whatever you bought. If you give your money to charity, you have the good feeling of having done something good in the world. There is no gain of any kind that can come from having your money or your valuables stolen. We all know that but still we make mistakes that leave us open to theft. Keep in mind the following easy steps that you can take to avoid being the victim of theft and maybe it won’t happen to you.

Do Not Leave Valuables in Your Car

Every week, I am reminded not to leave anything of value visible in my car. When I go to my gym, I see signs telling me that the parking lot often is the site of automobile break-ins. The same message is given to me at church and at local youth sports events. Even if you are just going to be away from your car for a few minutes, that is enough time for brazen thieves (often teens) to smash a window and grab your pocketbook or wallet. Don’t let that happen to you – bring your valuables every time you leave your car.

Do Not Make your Car a Target for Car Thieves

Casual car thieves do not want to overcome challenges that you put in their way. Never leave your keys in your car and when you are not at home always park in a well traveled area. You should also consider getting a steering wheel club or a pedal lock. Of course, if you have a particularly valuable vehicle, you might also consider investing in Lo-Jack, but make sure you tell your insurance provider so that you can get the discount offered for having an anti-theft device.

Monitor Your Credit Reports

Even if you think you are doing a great job of protecting your personal data, plenty of people have access to your credit card and other personal data. Indeed, every time you use a credit card, you are giving access to your data to someone. Often you will not realize that you have become a victim of identity theft until long after it has happened. You need to check your credit reports regularly and make sure you research and report any suspicious activity. By law, each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) must give you one free report each year. That means that you can get one free report every four months as long as you stagger your request. Visit to request a credit report today.

Protect Your Bike

It is always surprising to see an expensive bike leaning against a convenience store wall, unlocked and ripe for the picking. If you own a bicycle, you should also own a good lock and you should only leave your bike unattended if you have locked it up. You should also register your bike with the National Bike Register so that if it is stolen and recovered, the authorities will be more likely to trace it back to you.

Carry Only What You Need

Do not carry more cash than you need to carry and remove from your wallets anything that you will not need while you are out. If you lose your wallet or someone picks your pocket, you will want as little money as possible to be lost. Similarly, the fewer credit cards and other cards that you lose, the less damage the thief can do to you.

Don’t Travel with Expensive Jewelry

If you are traveling, wear your costume jewelry or very little jewelry. Nothing attracts the attention of muggers like a lot of expensive jewelry on people who are clearly tourists.

What other methods do you employ to cut down on your risk of being the target of a thief? Have you ever been the victim of a theft, burglary or robbery?

8 thoughts on “Avoid Being A Victim of Theft

  1. Good advice!

    The whole reason I have a Citibank credit card is ’cause they offer a thing called a virtual card number when you’re shopping on line. You can set a $ limit on this virtual card, it’s not your normal card number (the only place it’s tied to your card number is on their computers), you can set an expiration date, you can cancel the virtual card easily on-line and the virtual number is only good at the site you use it on, so that, even if someone “grabs” the number on say Amazon, they can’t use it on Neiman Marcus or Land’s End. I do a lot of my purchasing on-line, so I appreciate these safety features… particularly considering that someone did steal my card number when I called in a catalog purchase one time! Now, even if I call in a purchase, I “get” a virtual number and use it on the phone.

    I also check my credit cards on-line about once a week to make sure unauthorized purchases aren’t showing up.

    When I drop my car off for servicing, I have a thingie on my keyring to easily remove my housekeys. Long ago there was a scam going on where people were copying house keys and getting your address from service records and… well, you can guess the rest!

    Being single, for my on-line business I have a separate phone number and a p.o. box. I in no way want people to have my home address, particularly as I’m a sculptor/carver and may occasionally be posting shows that I’m attending on my site — talk about an open invitation to dishonest people! I also have an arrangement with my neighbors, whenever I do happen to leave town for a day or two.

    I enjoy traveling by myself. As an added safety measure, I have an arrangement with a friend (who’s also my attorney and holds my medical power of attorney) that I tell him when I’ll be gone, the route I’m taking and when I’m due back. As soon as I return, I email or call him. If he doesn’t hear from me, his instructions are to start the search! If it’s a particularly long, driving trip, we also set specific days when I check in with him along the way. There’s a part of me that hates this, but there’s also a part of me that figures it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    Guess that’s about it for what I can think of right now. 🙂

  2. I travel out of the country a lot and often with lots of gadgets and a small child in tow. I’ve found the best purse to travel with is a backpack with a zippered pocket that faces towards your back. This leaves your hands free to hold onto little ones and pickpockets can’t get your passport/money, etc. Here’s the “computer bag” that I’ve used for the past 3 years: Stylish, practical and theft-proof. And yes, David, I have “Travel Jewelry” bought for $10 at Claire’s Accessories.

  3. It is best to never carry anything in a laptop bag, etc. Use a backpack or something. (So many people get backs stolen, or held up at gun point – for their BOOKS).

    I grew up in the big city, so all this is second nature. But we moved to a smaller city a few years ago. IT continues to amaze me the e-mails and friends we get from neighbors about how you shouldn’t leave your purse unattended in the front seat of your car for 5 minutes. OR all day. (Duh??)

    We don’t leave garage door openers in our cars parked in the driveway, either.

    A lot of women have been getting their purses snatched from their shopping carts and such. Keep your purse close! & definitely only carry what you NEED – just in case!

  4. My husband left a stack of change in his truck a few years ago and forgot to lock his doors. The next morning, the change was gone.

    He did not learn his lesson. Two weeks later he did the same thing except instead of stack of change, he lost his wallet which had $180 in it! Now he is trained not to be so forgetful!

  5. If I am going to be out later than about 10pm, I only carry the cash that I think I will need for the night and one ID. I never spend a lot so if I do lose the money, I never lose enough to worry about it.

  6. If registering you bike, regardless of which service you use, it is a good idea to TAG it in MULTIPLE spots. IF it gets stolen, the bad guys may find and strip off some of the tags, but the one that he misses will be his undoing….

  7. The stuff you don’t carry with you when you’re out can still be stolen from your house while you’re not home. There’s really no way to be 100% secure.

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