Burnaby, British Columbia – The holiday season means many thieves are looking in car windows for gift purchases, warns the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA), which offers tips on preventing “smash-and-grab” robberies.

According to BCAA Insurance, 20 per cent of all claims made during the holidays are attributed to theft from cars or homes, with the average loss around the Christmas/New Year season around $3,000.

“A loss of that magnitude would certainly sour anyone’s holiday celebrations,” said Brooke Hanson, BCAA home insurance product manager. “Much of the theft is opportunistic and there is no shortage of opportunity right now. It’s a combination of heightened shopping activity and people leaving their homes on vacation. And we have yet to see how the economic downturn might compound the situation.”

BCAA offers the following tips:

– Beware of strangers approaching you. Con artists may try various schemes to distract you, with the intention of nabbing your cash or parcels.

– Don’t leave any valuables visible in your car, or even in your trunk. Thieves can spot items being loaded into a trunk from across the street or parking lot. Try to park in well-lit and high-traffic areas.

– Home and vehicle owners are advised to consult their insurance agent to make sure newly-purchased items, or items such as jewellery that might only get used at this time of year, are covered for theft or loss.

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