Smart and inventive thieves

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All of us work hard for our money and try to guard it in all the appropriate ways. We have passwords for everything from bank accounts to computers to cell phones. But sometimes thieves can be smarter than we are. I recently came across some stories I thought would really interest you.
The first story involves a trip to the airport. Some people left their car in the long-term parking while away on a trip and someone broke into the car. Using information on the car’s registration in the glove compartment, they drove the car to the people’s home and robbed it. So, I guess, if we are going to leave the car in long-term parking, we should NOT leave the registration/insurance cards in it, nor your remote garage door opener. Technology can work for and against us.
Next we have the sport savvy type of thief. A couple had their car broken into while they were at a football game. It was parked in a lot adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted for football fans. So the thieves were pretty sure they were at the game!
Items stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS (global positioning system) which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard. You know, you are always supposed to take those down off the windshield when you leave your car parked. Sometimes it is suggested that you actually wash the inside of the windshield off because the suction cup mark is still there showing that there’s a GPS in your car somewhere waiting to be stolen.
When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything of value had been stolen. The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house, (they used the “go home” feature). They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game and what time the game was scheduled to finish, so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house. Planning ahead, they also brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.
Something to consider – if you have a GPS, don’t put your home address in it. Put a nearby address (like a store or gas station) so you can still find your way home if you need to, but no one else would know where you live if your GPS was stolen.
I never thought of this! This lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her names on her cell phone after her purse was stolen. It contained her cell phone, credit cards, wallet, you know, everything in her life. Twenty minutes later when she called her husband from a pay phone (where did she find one of those?), telling him what had happened, he said, “I received your text asking about our Pin number and I replied a little while ago.” Oh no, of course that wasn’t her request. When they contacted the bank, the employee told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text “husband” in the contact list and got the Pin number. Within 20 minutes, the thief had withdrawn all the money from their bank account.
Here, there are some lessons to be learned! Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list. Avoid using names like home, honey, hubby, sweetheart, dad and mom. And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked through texts, confirm by calling back. Also, when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message came from them.
If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going places to meet “family or friends” who text you.
Then we have the shopping cart story. We know you’re never supposed to do this, but sometimes we forget when we’re busy shopping in the store. We put our purse where it shouldn’t be.
A lady went grocery shopping at a local mall and left her purse sitting in the children’s seat of the cart while she reached for something off a shelf. Quickly, her wallet was stolen, and she reported it to the store personnel. Imagine how upset she was with just that happening, but after returning home, she received a phone call from Mall Security to say that they had her wallet and that although there was no money in it, it did still have her credit cards. She immediately went to pick up her wallet, only to be told by Mall Security that they had not called her.
By the time she returned home again, her house had been broken into and burglarized. Something in her purse enabled them to get her phone number. The thieves knew that by calling and saying they were Mall Security, they could lure her out of her house long enough for them to burglarize it.
It’s stressful enough to lose your wallet or cell phone, but to have everything taken from your home is so much worse. Be careful with your belongings and be alert, and hopefully some of these stories will help you in the future.
(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)



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