Inside Insurance: Keep the holidays safe

Here’s the headline that got my attention: “Wallet, GPS reported stolen from car.” It’s time for the annual warning that is so often ignored.

Why leave a wallet and GPS unit in a vehicle in plain sight? Unfortunately, this is the season that brings out opportunists at their worst. For that reason, it also is the season when the insurance community and law enforcement issue the warning: Do not leave anything of value in plain sight in a vehicle.

While the holidays are a time of year when gifts are exchanged, it is also a time when some will take from others with the justification, if you can call it that: “They can afford it.”

I saw a couple this past week bringing a used set of dishware for eight to the Goodwill drop-off location near my home. The dishes were used, but clean, and there is no time of year where the saying is as true as it is at the holidays: “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.”

My take on this moment in time is that it is a privilege to share what we have with people who need what we can share. Nowhere is that seen more clearly than at the drop-off locations of Goodwill, the Salvation Army, MUST and hundreds of other locations where we can share our blessings with those in need.

In fact, history says the first Thanksgiving was more about finding a new place to live in freedom than having a great meal since that was a time of near-starvation were it not for local natives who understood the importance of sharing. There are still people in need all these hundreds of years later, and we continue a great tradition of sharing.

It’s a shame that some among us take advantage of the holidays to take what is not theirs. The reality of life slaps the rest of us into taking the time to exercise caution by not leaving anything of value in plain sight in our vehicles.

Sometimes it is a matter of forgetfulness or simply not paying attention. Remember the movie, “Gone in 60 Seconds”? That goes for anything easily accessible in a locked vehicle much less the vehicle itself. Yet we see over and over stories about vehicle break-ins when gifts or other valuables are reported stolen.

When you exit your vehicle in a parking lot, on the street or in a parking deck, after you lock the doors take a quick look inside and remember, if you can see it so can burglars.

Think about what happened on “Black Friday” when the doors opened and shoppers literally ran over each other trying to get to the sale items. There are times for caution and the holidays are certainly a part of those times.

While we consider shopping cautions, the same is true for the security of your home. Do not make it easy for the opportunists to break into your home and steal the gifts you have worked hard to buy for your family.

This is the time of year to be happy and joyous, but it is also a time for caution, safety and security.

David Colmans is executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service, an industry association of property and casualty insurance companies that do business in Georgia. Contact him by email at