Inside Insurance: Don't let the burglars know about your new stuff

By David Colmans

The classic Charles Dickens story, "A Tale of Two Cities," starts out with the words, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." So it is when the holidays roll around and we may throw caution to the wind.

Just drive through most any neighborhood from "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving through the Super Bowl next year. What to your wandering eyes should appear, but little invitations to area burglars who now know where to find all the good stuff.

There's one or two days a week that the bad guys eagerly wait for. It's the "Come Burglarize My House" sign that may be in your yard. The day before and the day of trash pick-up are great for cruising. That's when most of us put out, along with our regular trash, the empty boxes from the new HDTVs, computers, appliances and other goodies we buy ourselves during the holidays.

Here is something to think about to help with home safety precautions.

1. The bad guys just make notes of the addresses where they see the empty boxes and come back when no one is home.

2. Many shoppers hold on to the box for a while in case something goes wrong with the newly purchased gadget and it must be returned. When it's time to get rid of the box, think about these ways to do it:

-- Take the box to a recycling center for disposal.

-- Break up the box and put it in one or more trash bags so outsiders don't know what it is.

-- Repurpose the box, if possible, for storage in your home.

3. Consider more use of intrusion alarms and better household security measures. Unlocked windows and doors give burglars easy access. Sadly, there are many of us who have burglar alarms but don't take the time to use them.

There's another precaution that slips by those of use who use social networks on the Internet.

Watch what you say on-line with comments on Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace or any other social networking site.

Bad guys look for users who announce to the world they are on vacation, at out-of-town meetings or traveling with friends or family.

There is even a web site that posts just such messages in an effort to let people know how dangerous too much information can be.

Don't let a Grinch burgle your home and ruin your holiday."

David Colmans is the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service. Contact him at (770) 565-3806 or at

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