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5 Common Holiday Crimes Everyone Should Know About

By Catherine Hodder, Esq. | Last updated on

The holiday season: the most wonderful time of the year for an uptick in crime rates. Sure, it's about other things, too, but crime really does spike around the holidays.

Most common holiday crimes involve theft or poor decisions. While you can't safeguard yourself from everything, knowing about them might be enough to prevent becoming a victim.

Below, you'll find the most common crimes everyone should know about and ways to protect yourself.

Shoplifters and Pickpockets

Businesses and customers must remain vigilant when the masses are out holiday shopping, as crowded retail establishments are a boon for shoplifters and pickpockets alike. While stores hire extra security to stop shoplifters, you must protect yourself from pickpockets.

What to do: Keep bags, wallets, and purses zipped closed and in a secure location on your person. If you have a lot of credit cards, bring only the ones you intend to use on your shopping trip or use an electronic wallet such as Apple Pay to secure transactions with credit and debit cards from your phone.

Vehicle Burglars

Vehicle break-ins happen much more frequently during the holiday season because criminals expect to find gifts in cars. Car burglars, particularly near shopping centers, are looking for cars filled with gifts. A common trick of parking lot thieves is to wait in the parking lot. They look for shoppers dropping off their purchases and returning to the store for more.

What to do: Keep your purchases and valuables with you. If you must drop off packages while shopping, look around your surroundings to see if anyone is watching you. Place packages in hidden areas so thieves don't see them.

Porch Pirates

Online shopping continues to increase in popularity year after year. For one type of burglar, known as a porch pirate, deliveries for online shoppers are easy targets. Porch pirates will drive through neighborhoods stealing recently delivered packages that sit unattended on a person's porch or front step. These criminals have more opportunities during the holiday due to increased online shopping and package deliveries. Under 18 USC 1708, people found stealing or receiving stolen mail or packages can be fined and imprisoned for up to five years.

What to do: If you know you won't be home all day to get packages, ask a neighbor to bring them in or consider shipping them to your place of work. Some people install video surveillance cameras, such as Ring, to record thefts to turn over to police. You may have seen the viral videos of revenge against porch pirates with glitter bombs but avoid creating any situation that may inflict injury on someone (even if they are trespassing and stealing your packages). It may feel satisfying, but this sort of revenge can make you vulnerable to a lawsuit. It's not worth it.

Identity Theft

Cybercrime is always a threat, but even more so during the holidays. The U.S. Postal Service reports a new phishing scam in which you receive an email notifying you of an attempted package delivery. The website asks for your personal information, such as address, passwords, or social security or credit card numbers, to steal your identity.

What to Do: Be suspicious of unsolicited emails. If you receive an email or phone call from a company you typically order from, independently verify by calling their customer service number. Do not instinctively click on links without doing some research. And do not give out personal information.

Drunk Driving/DUI

Among the worst decisions a person can make during the holiday season is to drive under the influence, yet car accidents caused by impaired driving have increased. According to, New Year's Day is the biggest day for deaths caused by driving under the influence.

While you may want to have a few drinks at the company holiday party or get through the holidays with family members, driving drunk, buzzed, or over the legal limit is not worth the risk. If the fear of killing or injuring another person or jail time isn't enough, even a first DUI arrest can cost several thousand dollars. It can also have a ripple effect, causing a loss of employment and a ruined holiday season for your loved ones.

What to do: Plan to get home safely before you start drinking or using drugs. Use ride-share services such as Uber or Lyft for a ride home.

And unfortunately, domestic violence and sexual assault crimes increase at this time of year. If you are dealing with any of these types of crimes, report it to law enforcement. If you are facing criminal charges, seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney.

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