Not every scam artist is raving stupid and only looking to score his/her next hit of meth. Indeed, some are calculating and plan their crimes carefully. The lesson today is to THINK about everything you do, imagine the possible consequences, weigh the risks, and then act. Or not.
Examples of smart crooks and how you can outsmart them:
Crooks having grazing grounds. Really. They know the best houses to rob are those with absent owners. A sure way they can narrow the field is to cruise the long-term airport lots.
The best possible scenario is for them to sit quietly and watch, making a list of families obviously going on trips or a 30-something, professionally dressed, individual with no wedding band.
The next step is connecting the license plate with a home address (there are multiple under-the-table ways to do this), breaking into the unoccupied home and shopping for items of value. Breaking into the car first will provide a garage door opener, making the eventual theft easy as pie.
Never reveal too much information about upcoming travels to people you do not know. Marty left his car in a collision shop while he and his wife were going to Hawaii for a week, Theresa boarded her dog Mitzi — no telling who had access to her information. Andrew and Suzi bought cruise tickets over the phone, from a stranger; willfully supplying all identifying information for a house burglary and an eventual identity theft. Barbara (brushing cat hair off of her coat) chatted with an airline employee, “I’m going to Cincinnati to see my mother for two weeks and I just dropped my cat off at my girlfriend’s house.”
All of these things sound harmless, however they are music to the ears of gonna-be crooks.
All-day local excursions can provide happy hunting grounds for bands of thieves. Combine a local zoo and a 10-year-old kid wearing his school shirt. Translation? Empty house for at least three hours.
Social Media Sites — Felicia Fitzheimer (or anyone so blessed with a name unlike John Smith) should never post a happy, feel-good status that reads, “Frank and the kids and I are driving up to Reno tonight to visit Mom and Dad for a week.” Felicia might as well rent a billboard that reads, “Rob my House!”
If your purse, wallet or keys are stolen, think outside the box. Not only do you notify your bank or credit card company of the theft, but you change your locks. While you may feel very smart for a month after the theft because you instantly notified everyone, you won’t feel so brilliant when someone gains mid-day entry to your home using your key.
And if you do change your locks, hiring an unknown off of Craigslist — even at half price — is just stupid. Use an identifiable, reputable, bonded locksmith. Consider the extra dollars paid as the price of security.
Between THINKING and TRUSTING, choose thinking.
Drop by the Pahrump Valley Times offices, 2160 E. Calvada Blvd., for a copy of Leslie Kim’s latest book “123 Main Street … the Scamming of America.” Only $19.95 while supplies last.