Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Avoid holiday scams and thieves at home

Yvette Urrea Moe

County of San Diego Communications Office

Don’t let your guard down during the holiday rush. Protect yourself from the real-life Grinches – burglars and fraudsters – looking to ruin your presents and plans. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Fraud Division are reminding people of important safety tips as you make your final holiday preparations.

At home

• Always lock your doors and windows, especially at night and when you’re away.

• Avoid opening doors to strangers.

• Place gifts where they cannot be seen from outside your home.

• After opening presents, don’t pile up empty gift boxes outside. This gives burglars a hint of expensive items in your home. Instead, fold the boxes and break them up flat inside the recycling bin.

• If you see someone casing your alley or neighborhood, report suspicious activity to the Sheriff’s non‐emergency line at 858-565‐5200.

Online shopping

• Use one credit card for all online purchases to avoid exposing other cards.

• Do not click on links from unsolicited emails. Go to the website instead.

• Make sure the website is legitimate and secure. Check for the lock icon in the address bar, and make sure the address begins with https.

• Make sure the computer you are using has updated anti-virus protection.

• Avoid using a public computer.

• Avoid using open Wi-Fi for financial transactions.

• Do not trust sellers who ask you to pay with a wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.

• Never email personal information, legitimate online marketplaces will not ask you for personal information via email.

• If buying or selling items online which require you to meet in person at some point, make sure to meet in a public, well-lit space during normal business hours.

• Be careful of online deals that are too good to be true. They often are.

Package delivery

Schedule package deliveries when you are going to be home, but if it is not possible, consider the following suggestions:

• Leave special instructions to the delivery person to put the package in a backyard, or somewhere where it’s not visible from the street.

• Require that the delivery driver get a signature for the package (from a trusted neighbor).

• Track the package.

• Sign up for email or text message alerts with estimated delivery times.

• Have the postal services or shipping service hold your package at their pick-up facility so you can pick it up in person at your convenience.

• If purchasing from a large retailer, request that your package be delivered to a local branch or store so you can pick it up in person.

• Get to know your carriers. If there’s been a problem of thefts in the past, tell them about it.

• Insure your packages.

• Ask a neighbor or retired relative (who is home) if they will accept your package for you at their home.

• Have the package delivered to your workplace if it is permitted.

• Buy a locking mailbox big enough for packages.

• Consider installing a camera security system that photographs people who come to your door and allows you to communicate with them without opening the door or being home.

When going on vacation

• Lock up your home and activate your alarm.

• Don’t share your plans on social media.

• Sign up for a free vacation check by Sheriff’s Senior Volunteer Patrol (SVP) members who can keep an eye on your home. Visit for a Sheriff’s Station and Substation near you.

• Hold the delivery of your mail and newspaper or ask a trusted friend to pick them up for you.

• Ask a neighbor to occasionally park in your driveway.


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