Black Friday 2016: How to Shut Down Thieves

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or is it?

Starting on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the possibility of theft becomes more of a concern to the consumer who may not give it another thought the rest of the year. But insurance company Traveler reports that thefts on Black Friday are 28% higher than any other day when considering thefts that take place away from home.

Overall thefts on Black Friday are 2% higher when in-home thefts are considered too. But when you think of the hassle Christmas shoppers endure to get some of those sweet Black Friday bargains, you can see how much of an emotional wallop having some of it stolen can deliver. Here are some tips for shutting thieves down on Black Friday.

Know Which Items Are Most Vulnerable to Theft

Clothing, toys, and video games – three Black Friday Christmas shopping favorites – are also tops with thieves. Clothing is 40% likelier to be stolen on Black Friday compared other Fridays, and toys are three times as likely to be stolen on Black Friday as opposed to other Fridays. Video game thefts spike by 42% on Black Friday compared to ordinary Fridays.

Also bear in mind which items are most commonly stolen from vehicles on ordinary days, because if thieves are willing to break into your car to take a video game, they’re not going to forego the expensive smartphone left on the dash. Smartphones are the number one most stolen item from vehicles, followed by other personal electronics like laptops and GPS systems.

Other items commonly stolen from cars include work tools, credit cards, stereo equipment, cash, car parts, garage door openers, and expensive sunglasses. Thieves are primed for action on the day after Thanksgiving, so even if you don’t buy anything, take steps to secure your vehicle and everything in it.

Don’t Leave Items in Plain Sight

The solution is obvious: don’t leave merchandise in plain sight in your car, even if it’s locked. Put it in the trunk and lock the car so the interior trunk latch can’t be accessed. If you drive a hatchback, or some other car where the back can be seen into, use a cargo cover for things stored in the hatch. If your car didn’t come with one, aftermarket cargo covers are available.

Black Friday

Lock your holiday shopping in your trunk, so it’s out of sight.

In general, you want the parts of your car that are visible to passers-by to look as boring and unassuming as possible. If you plan to buy something large that will require folding down the back seat or that otherwise won’t go in the trunk, make a trip home afterward to lock it up there. Theft is often a crime of opportunity, and thieves go for the things they see that appear easiest to grab and get away with. Making it even a little bit harder than the next guy can make a difference.

Beware of “Porch Pirates”

People who have never been fans of the Black Friday throngs are happy to have so many online shopping options. In 2015, almost half of all holiday shopping was done online, and all signs point to a similar situation this year. The longer the time between a package being dropped on your doorstep and you taking it inside, the greater the opportunity for “porch pirates” to steal it. Sure, they don’t know what’s inside, but as easy as it can be to grab a box off someone’s porch, they figure it’s worth the risk of it being low-value.

If you don’t arrive home until after dark, motion-sensitive lighting for your porch can be a smart investment, as can outdoor surveillance that you can monitor with your phone or tablet. But if something is stolen, don’t expect much help from the delivery company or local police in getting it back. Too many other things take higher priority. You can specify recorded delivery as your preferred delivery option, or have packages sent to a safe location, such as your office, or the home of a friend who works from home to help prevent thefts.

Take steps to avoid Black Friday theft and you’re likelier to have a happy holiday season. Should you lose something to theft, we invite you to post it on Our records are rapidly indexed by search engines, and law enforcement and pawn shops frequently search online for items they suspect are stolen. Your item’s “digital fingerprint” on lasts for a year and can be renewed, and it’s all free. Let’s make this holiday season a disappointing one for thieves.

Marc Hinch is a Police Investigator in California and creator of Stolen 911.

By Marc Hinch

A retired Police Investigator specializing in auto theft and fraud, I now work as an Investigator using Stolen 911 to develop leads recovering stolen property across the US and Canada. You can reach me at @heyhinch or @stolen911 on Twitter.