|Homeowners Urged To Protect Their Property Against Holiday Burglaries
NEW YORK, December 2003 ? One quarter of all home
burglaries occur during the winter months, according to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI). That?s when many homeowners are out-of-town for the
holidays. Crooks will steal electronics and jewelry, even the presents under
your tree! The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), urges everyone to make
sure their homes are not an ?easy mark? for thieves determined to steal their
?By taking some simple precautions, homeowners can prevent
burglaries at this hectic time of year,? says Alejandra Soto, spokesperson for
the I.I.I. ?This is a time of good cheer. We want to help homeowners keep it
Residential burglaries accounted for 65.8 percent of all
reported burglaries in 2002, with a third of those occurring during the months
of November through January, according to the FBI. Furthermore, insurers pay
over one billion dollars in homeowners insurance claims each year. Residential
burglaries average $1,381 in losses per burglary, notes the I.I.I.
?We?ve seen the number of burglaries nationally rise slightly in past
years,? says Soto. ?The struggling economy has influenced that to some extent.
Add the surge in consumer spending that accompanies the holidays and it is a
recipe for greater homeowner vulnerability and risk.?
To keep your home
safe, follow these preventive measures:
Keep your home well lit. Mount
exterior lights out of reach in your yard or on your house. Put indoor lights on
Make it time-consuming to break into your home. Keep doors and
windows securely locked. Install dead-bolts on all exterior doors.
it noisy to break into your home. Invest in a burglar alarm ? over 90 percent of
burglars say they would avoid a home with an alarm. The most effective alarm
rings at an outside service, which alerts the police, fire or other emergency
Make sure you have strong doors. The best lock will not deter a
burglar if it is installed in a weak door.
Keep shrubbery trimmed. The
landscape of your home should not provide a burglary-friendly environment.
Shrubbery should be kept below window level so thieves can not hide behind them.
Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the internet. If you save
personal information in your computer, make sure it is difficult to access. You
don?t want a hacker at work while you are on vacation.
under lock and key and well hidden. When possible, do not leave personal
documents in your desk at home ? burglars know to look for them there. Put
critical documents in a lock box somewhere else in the house. Also, keep copies
of important documents at another location ? a relative?s home for example, for
quick access in case you need to report identity theft. Expensive jewelry should
also be hidden in another room besides the bedroom.
If you plan on
traveling out of town, follow these additional steps:
Have mail and
packages picked up, forwarded or held by the post office. Stop newspaper
deliveries and ask a neighbor to pick-up ?throw-away? circulars.
blinds or curtains open in their usual position. Make it appear that you are at
Ask a neighbor for help. Don?t tell people you don?t know and
trust that you are going away. Instead, ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye
on your home while you are away.
Theft of personal possessions and
damage to the home caused by a break-in is covered under a standard homeowners
insurance policy. If you have replacement cost coverage it will replace a stolen
item without deducting for depreciation. Actual cash value coverage will pay
only what the stolen item is worth today. With replacement cost, which is only
about 10 percent more than actual cash value, damaged property is replaced
without deducting for depreciation.
Most insurance companies provide
discounts to policyholders who invest in home security. If you install dead-bolt
locks on your exterior doors, you can obtain a discount of two to five percent.
A sophisticated alarm system could result in an insurance discount between 15 to
For information on homeowners or insurance issues access the
I.I.I.'s Web site at http://www.iii.org. The I.I.I. is a nonprofit
communications organization sponsored by the property/casualty insurance
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