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How To Prepare for Theft from Your Home or Auto

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While you may hope that it never happens to you, it's likely that you may be a victim of theft from your vehicle or burglary of your home. This is especially true if you live in a densely populated area such as a city or suburb of a major metropolitan area.

However, you can take steps to prepare both for prevention of theft and dealing with its aftermath by being aware of possible vulnerabilities and removing temptations from prospective thieves.

Preventing theft from and of your vehicle

Theft of personal items

You must be vigilant in keeping personal items out of sight of potential thieves. This includes peripheral items such as laptop cases and phone chargers. When thieves see these accessories, they may believe that there is a greater chance of an electronic device being hidden inside the vehicle.

Exposed sunglasses, even inexpensive models, can lead to windows being shattered. Loose pocket change inside cup holders should always be covered with a crumpled tissue or similar cloaking material.

Theft of your vehicle

While no methods of theft prevention are insurmountable, thieves often look for the path of least resistance, so car alarms, either preinstalled or aftermarket, are a good start. Steering wheel clubs, while inconvenient, also add an additional burden for thieves.

Of course, you should never leave your vehicle running while you dash inside a store or take groceries inside your home, or for any other reason. 

Vehicle tracking devices are useful after your vehicle has been stolen, but cannot prevent vehicle theft. If your vehicle is stolen, you should call 911 before calling your insurance company. When it's time to call to report a claim, you should have your policy number, the last location of the vehicle, and a time frame during which the vehicle was stolen.

Preventing a home burglary

Installing an alarm system will help to deter potential burglars, but it cannot assure that a desperate individual won't attempt a quick "smash-and-grab" type of theft, in which they simply barge through the home taking visible items and run out before the police can arrive.

Keep valuables such as expensive electronics away from street level windows, and install deadbolt locks on all doors. Traditional door locks can be opened easily with a pry bar.

Don't allow shrubbery to cover entry points such as windows. Privacy for you also means privacy for potential burglars.

When traveling, have your mail stopped for the duration of your travel time, but ask a friend or neighbor to check your mail periodically anyway because mail stops are not always performed even though they are scheduled and approved by the post office. A large collection of mail outside your front door is a sure indication to a burglar that no one is home.

You should remove all jewelry from the home for an extended trip because home insurance policies usually have strict limits on replacement of jewelry in the event of theft.

Dealing with a home burglary

Sometimes burglaries are unavoidable. If you become a victim, call your local police department. They will give you a complaint number, which you will then give to your insurance company.

The insurance company will give you a claim number for future correspondence. You will then be asked for a list of stolen items. Reimbursement will vary depending upon the type of items stolen.

For example, computers such as laptops and tablets may have a $5000 limit, while other electronic components may have other restrictions.

If possible, you should make a list of all of the valuables in your home before a burglary occurs. Include prices, manufacturers, and serial numbers when available. Every time you purchase a new item, add information about that item to the list.

If a burglary does occur, you have a complete list for your insurance company and a better chance of getting your property back if it is found. Talk to your local insurance agent or contact Northeast Insurance Agency for more information.