A Holiday Heist: Burglars and Your Home Insurance

Apr 22, 2021 | From The CEO

A reminder from the silver screen

We know the classic movie scene all too well. Kevin, a little boy, was accidentally left home alone by his family who went overseas for a vacation. When at first he thought that it was an answered prayer to have the house all to himself, it would soon turn into a nightmare as burglars would attempt to break into the home.

Young Kevin, however, used his smarts and knew exactly how to keep the criminals at bay. He turned the lights on, set the television blasting at full volume, mimicking people chattering, he also set dance music to play on the phonograph, driving a mechanical contraption connected via strings to cardboard cutouts that, behind curtains, appear like people dancing to the tune. 

Upon seeing and hearing that there seemed to be someone home, the burglars were taken aback and had to reconsider their plan of entering and looting the house.

But as professional lawbreakers would, they later wise up to the kid’s antics and manage entry into the premises and that’s where the story took an interesting turn.

Countless social media posts have shown burglars boldly helping themselves to deliver packages left at porches and doorsteps, despite the presence of closed-circuit television cameras sometimes right smack in front of their faces.

Some victims have decided to fight back by rigging the packages with clever non-lethal booby traps (hoping this is the case in all such instances). Who hasn’t heard of stories where the boxes, when opened, would explode with different colored paint (some used stink bombs and sooty black smoke) that would definitely leave a mark inside cars, not to mention on the faces and bodies of the burglars.

Amusingly, other social media vigilantes also rigged bikes and baited thieves, that when stolen, the bicycles would either break in half mid-ride, or the seat would heat up and burn through the pants of the rider, or worse, blow up with a small explosive. Talk about swift justice and a painful lesson.

Burglary, Larceny, and Robbery

All three, if committed, carry a prison sentence, plain and simple. The common Joe may use the terms interchangeably and may generally brand perpetrators as “thieves”.

Britannica, on one hand, defines Burglary as “the unlawful taking of property within premises that have been closed and in which visible marks are evidencing forcible entry”. It is in itself a particular class of a criminal undertaking.

Larceny, on the other hand, is similar, but without entering into someone else’s property. 

Whereas in a Robbery, there lies an element of threat or actual use of force and even violence during the commission of the act of unlawfully acquiring another person’s possession.

The latter requires personal contact between the perpetrator and victim, while the first two acts do not.

Fast forward to the Holidays. Most people become frantic these days. The shopping frenzy has begun for some, while others have yet to finalize their gift lists for others.

Some choose to do it at the last minute, thinking that the horde will have finished theirs and there won’t be as many people in the shops. But sadly, some become frantic and pressured for an entirely different reason.

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reports that thefts increase by as much as twenty percent (20%) during the holidays. In December 2019 alone in the State of California, there were 22,400 burglaries reported, eighteen percent (18%) higher than the monthly average for the prior months. With no extensive studies to determine why is this so, experts can only surmise and attribute it to a sense of desperation among those who want to shower loved ones and friends with gifts but are financially unable to. So they resort to thievery and burglary just to satisfy the need. What aggravates the situation is knowing the fact that gifts and packages are just lying around in porches, steps, or under trees, at times, in empty homes of residents most likely partying in some other person’s home. Thus the term “porch pirates” was coined to describe those who drive around and scan homes trying to spot possible targets.

Thieves Can Tell

Security experts share some professional and practical tips on how to avoid being victimized and ensure that your loved ones get to keep and enjoy their gifts:

  1. Top on the list is to get a comprehensive home security system with an audible alarm or at the very least an automated or time programmable lighting system. If nobody’s home, lights turning on at sundown or even at a press of a smartphone button will give the impression that there is someone inside the house. Figures show that seventy-four percent (74%) of aborted burglaries are attributed to blaring security alarms. 
  1. Avoid posting your out-of-town trips on social media. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of criminals use social media to scout possible targets.
  1. Avoid leaving empty boxes of your expensive purchases in trash bins or yards for trash pickup. This may signal the presence of these pricey items inside homes, so it is recommended to cut the cardboard boxes up before disposing of them in the bins.
  1. Keep blinds down or curtains closed. If thieves can see the inside of homes, with no one home and gifts strewn around the Christmas tree or in front of fireplaces, that becomes an open invitation to loot.
  1. Avoid leaving packages on porches. Vendors usually advise delivery schedules of packages, so it is best to be well-coordinated and make sure these items can be received by a member of your household and placed inside homes once they are delivered.
  1. Advise mailmen and newspaper boys to forego delivery for the duration of your vacation. A pile of mail and newspapers in your front yard are clear indications that the house is deserted.
  1. A weedy, overgrown lawn can also be taken as a sign that no one’s around to do the mowing, so you could probably arrange for someone to do the trimming at strategic intervals.

If All Else Fails…

It has been said time and again that insurance does not only provide security for your home and possessions but more importantly, it buys peace of mind for the homeowner and that should damage or loss be incurred, there will be funds available to replace or restore these hard-earned assets.

Should the unfortunate happen and a burglary did indeed take place, a homeowner’s insurance would suffice and cover for theft and break-ins. Personal Property coverage will answer for all the stolen items inside the house. Dwelling and Other Structure coverage will pay for the repair of damages caused by the break-in into the home and other structures such as a garage or shed. Typical of which are broken doors and windows.

When the going gets tough, there is no need to sweat out the small stuff, you just have to call the experts. Whether it’s about homeowner’s insurance, automobile insurance or you simply want to ask for guidance from insurance specialists, a timely call for help is always critical. So if you need sound advice, don’t hesitate to contact us. We will always be there to make your life hassle and stress-free by finding the perfect solution for your insurance needs. At Advantage Insurance Solutions (AIS), our team of insurance experts can ensure quality protection for individuals, families, and businesses in Denver, Colorado, and 40 other US States, by helping you find the best carrier for your needs.

Epilogue

We all know how the story ends. Kevin, the boy inadvertently left at home while the rest of the family went on vacation, managed to elude the burglars who eventually were put behind bars. His mother got home just in time for Christmas, the rest of the family members followed suit and the whole lot of them got together to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

What we don’t know, however, was the extent of damage done to the McCallister’s home and what Mr. McCallister had to go through to get everything back into working order. To begin with, there were broken doors and windows with glass panes shattered. The Dwelling Coverage of the Homeowner’s Insurance Policy paid for the repair and replacement. There was also a priceless antique grandfather clock, which during the fracas, toppled over and broke into unmendable pieces. That too was covered by the policy’s Replacement Cost Coverage, which means that the insurance provided money to repurchase a similar item with the same monetary value. 

There were other valuables damaged such as silverware and expensive crystal ornaments of the Missus, the total value of these would have exceeded the 70% sub-limit of the value of the home insurance as it applies to the Personal Property Coverage. Fortunately, however, Mr. MacCallister had the foresight to secure a Scheduled Personal Property Coverage that effectively increased the coverage limits of the aforementioned valuables and therefore covered for their replacement.

It is on this note that this tale comes to a truly happy ending, a story that could have concluded otherwise if the choices made by the man of the house were different. We can help you make the right choice too! Call us toll-free today on our toll-free hotlines at (855) 973-1202

(855) 712-6584 today, and get the right coverage for your family and home’s safety!