My family and I just returned from a much-needed vacation in Maui. Although this experience was a little slice of paradise, I was reminded of some travel tips that kept me on my toes.
1.) Airport park and rides- Remove all paperwork from your car that contains your address and indentifying information (E.g. registration, insurance, etc.) and give them your car key only. This is one way to protect your identity and your home. The unknown employees here will know exactly how long you are gone and have access to your home address from the papers in your car.
2.) Don’t pack or take expensive items– Leave the items that are hard or impossible to replace at home. According to a study by Credit Donkey, baggage loss stats last year ranged from 6 per 1,000 passengers (American Eagle) to 1.43 per 1,000 passengers (AirTran). Older statistics from the TSA claimed a loss rate of 3 per 100,000 passengers (source: Budget Travel Blog), though more recently the number of claims has fallen, according to the Travel Sentry blog. a Reuters report gives a higher figure, at 4 per 100,000. That may not sound a lot, but it adds up to about 2 million mishandled baggage reports! And at least some of those are thefts, if you can believe recent news reports.
3.) Mail service– If you tend to get stacks of mail throughout the week, notify the US Postal service of your absence. They can stop delivery for the period of time that you are gone. The last thing you want is crooks to see an overflowing mailbox that shows no one is home. Or, consider the popular crime opportunity of identity theft. Any piece of mail containing information about you can be used to compromise your identity.
4.) Tell the neighbors you trust-I certainly don’t know your neighbors, but if you are close give them the heads up that you will be gone. Be cautious about telling the many neighbors you are not close with, as the information may fall into the wrong hands. I cannot tell you the countless cases of burglary I have investigated where the neighbor or the teen kids were the suspects.
5.) Rental cars– Let’s face it, that awesome yellow Dodge you rented screams rental car and screams even louder, ‘TOURIST’. Even on my trip to Maui I watched street people walk through parking lots looking into car windows with special attention to the rental cars. Put your purchases and your luggage at the hotel. Do not leave valuables in plain view. When we go to the beach, we tend to leave our wallets and purses in the car and crooks know this—it’s an easy target.
These are just some of the tips that popped into my head to get you started on your journey. I can go on, but just remember crooks don’t take vacations like us, they are always hard at work and looking for an opportunity, lets not give them one. If you have some tips that have helped you, post them for others to read.
About the Author- Cameron Knauerhaze is the former CSI Board President and current member of the CSI Council. He is a Orange County, CA Police Sergeant with 16 years experience in patrol, investigations, and community policing.