Last updateFri, 27 Nov 2020 10am

Have safer holidays at home, in your car

Grinches are always extra active during the this season, looking for unsecured houses and even cars, and aiming to make off with some loot. Mexico is surely safer than many U.S. cities, but wise and wary expats should be prepared to foil grinches with heightened awareness of their modus operandi.

Our homes should be the nexus of holiday cheer, yet break-ins are all too common during the Yuletide season. So, although we rightful residents may be away celebrating or traveling during the holidays, we should think about making our homes appear occupied at all times.

Lights, both indoor and outdoor, have been called the cheapest of security systems, as they are inexpensive to buy and do not require nearly as much power as appliances. Get timers or just leave lights on 24/7. Nobody notices them during the day, but once the sun sets, a lit house offers good protection.

Likewise, a blaring radio or television, audible from outside the home, can make it appear occupied when it is not. Who is to say you are not up at 4:30 a.m. watching TV?

Dogs require more care than radios, but a barking pooch, while not infallible, does a lot to deter unwanted visitors.

If you are going to be away for several days, ask someone to take away the flyers that are inevitably taped around entrances.

Of course, we shouldn’t overlook the old standbys — iron bars on windows and good locks on doors. Some grinches are agile and don’t hesitate to prowl roofs, so don’t neglect small or high windows.

And herreros (iron workers) and cerrajeros (locksmiths) are not that expensive. But don’t overdo it on the cumbersome locks that are popular in Mexico. If you have to exit your home quickly, say, in a fire, you don’t want to have to hunt around for a key.

Also, forget about button locks — they are ineffective against thieves and best for locking yourself out. Deadbolts, of course, are the ones that slow thieves down. Get deadbolts that are visible from the outside, so your door doesn’t appear unsecured to criminals.

Sadly, even people knocking on your door to collect for a “charity” can be a dangerous ruse. Recently, an unsuspecting homeowner in the El Colli area of Guadalajara opened the door for two white-coated people who seemed to be collecting for the Green Cross. These impostors quickly let in two accomplices and the rest of the story was not pretty.

A mighty fortress your car is not, especially at the season when even rateros (bad guys) want to buy their kids Christmas presents.

Cars at stoplights are sometimes carjacked or victimized. A thief near ITESO university recently took a brick to a student’s locked passenger-side window and grabbed a backpack containing a laptop, which was sitting on the passenger seat.

Moral of the story? 1. As Hamlet said, “That it should come to this.” 2. Don’t give up on locking car doors, but keep anything suggesting valuables out of view. Keep a low profile and try not to appear rich. 3. Don’t let anyone in your house. One woman, an actress, even fakes a man’s voice when she answers her intercom. Try a King Kong imitation.

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