Holiday theft safety tips

package on stoop

Protecting your packages

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  Or is it? Maybe you’re one of those people that buys gifts all year long, putting them away until December. Or maybe you’re one of those people that doesn’t or can’t get out there till December 24th to do your holiday shopping. Either way, we have found some holiday theft prevention tips that can keep your holiday ruined by theft.

Theft on holiday isn’t anything new and this is the biggest holiday theft season, and it isn’t limited to stealing packages from your car or home either. Identity theft holiday season isn’t just during the holidays, that season is all year long. Within the following piece, you will find some holiday theft prevention tips to help you keep from being a victim.

What is the difference between stealing and theft? 

In common custom, there isn’t any real difference between stealing and theft. Either way, the meaning and results are the same: “misappropriation of goods.” It is legislation that defines the difference with many jurisdictions choose “theft” grouping all crimes against property such as burglary, embezzlement, fraud, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting, into one classification. 

Stealing largely refers to taking something specific. For example, we look at “stealing” associated with something that has been taken, as in, “The thieves stole her diamond ring”.

What is considered theft?

Theft is legally defined as the unauthorized taking of property from another person with the intention to permanently and deprive the victim of having it. There are 2 key elements within that definition:

  • The taking of property belong to another person
  • The intention of depriving the victim of having the property permanently

The taking component in a theft normally requires confiscating the property that belongs to somebody else. It may also involve removing the property. However, it is the component of intention is where it can get complex.

For instance, Joe enters a computer store, takes two flash drives and places them in his pocket, then walks out without paying and intending on keeping them. If caught, Joe is charged with theft. Had Joe left in the owner’s car, he would face grand theft. 

What are the different types of theft?

Embezzlement. Fraud. Larceny. Robbery. What is the difference between these terms of thefts? If you haven’t ever been charged with any of these, you may not realize there is a difference. Following is a description of four different thefts and the respective elements of each, after which, we’ll offer some holiday theft prevention tips to prevent, or minimize the chances, of these things, happening.

Larceny aka Theft

Simple theft is also referred to as larceny is a crime involving unlawfully taking property or using the property of another person. Most jurisdictions have different levels of theft charges that can range from a misdemeanor for shoplifting to grand theft for stealing a car. They each have the same basic element of taking something unlawfully that belongs to somebody else.  We will provide holiday theft prevention tips later in this article to prevent theft from your car, home, or workplace.

The variation is shoplifting, the act of taking something from a retail store or grand theft which is something of value, or grand theft auto which is the stealing of a vehicle. The punishment for each of these is dependent upon the type of theft charges that are filed, with some common sentences such as fines, jail time, and/or probation.

Identity Theft

With personal information easily obtained, identity theft has become increasingly common. Identity theft is described as using the name, banking information, credit card, or other personal information of another person without their permission.  Read further on where we will provide holiday theft prevention tips that can save not only your immediate finances but your credit rating. Today, identity theft is a federal crime that is punishable by jail time as well as forfeiture of the property purchased with the stolen funds.

Robbery

Any person using intimidation, threats, or violence to obtain property belonging to another person is considered robbery. Robbery differs from theft because of the added element of intimidating, threatening, or violence, which is typically referred to as either armed robbery or mugging. The penalty for this charge is a heavier penalty than regular larceny because of the intimidation, threats, and/or violence. Unfortunately, this type of crime is high during the holidays, and our holiday theft prevention tips further into this piece will help you minimize, even eliminate them from happening to you.

Fraud

Any person who is deceiving another person with false pretenses to relinquish their property is stealing from them. The difference between fraud and the above-described robbery is the lack of intimidation, threatening, or violence used.

Fraud, like simple theft, can have numerous levels based on the deception involved. For instance, if a person takes property that they were entrusted for safekeeping, it is embezzlement. A fake form of a negotiable instrument, such as phony currency or stolen, this is counterfeiting. When it involves the government and taxes, it is evasion or tax fraud.

Fraud is considered a “white collar” crime and doesn’t typically involve violence. It is performed by way of business dealing and even though the deception involved didn’t include physical force, it is extremely serious and can be financially devastating. These types of fraud can involve enormous amounts of money and/or property and can often involve many victims. There are several sentences for this type of crime from a fine and probation to prison time.

Do you go to jail for first-time theft?

Typically, no, but it is a decision that is made by the sitting sentencing judge. Several factors will be considered in the judge’s decision, such as prior arrests, if the accused had a weapon on their person, and the value of what was stolen. 

How much jail time can you get for theft? 

In Texas, theft less than $50 is a class C misdemeanor. There is fine no more than $500 with no jail time.

Theft more than $50 but under $500 is a class B misdemeanor, including if there is a state driver’s license or ID included in the stolen property. The punishment can be up to 180 days and a fine up to $2,000, or both jail time and fine.

Theft over $500 and under $1500 is a class A misdemeanor. The punishment for this is 1 year or less behind bars and a fine up to $4,000, or both.  

arrested for stealing

Our Holiday Theft Prevention Tips

  • Don’t post your social media status updates before you leave or while you’re gone. Burglars use social network to find the empty houses.  
  • Close your curtains every night as you’re locking doors.
  • Put your ladder away when finished decorating.
  • Watch for your package deliveries
  • Keep your purchases hidden – do not leave them in your car
  • Keep your doors locked
  • Be aware and watch your surroundings. 
  • Install motion-activated lighting around your house
  • Keep your luggage and purse with you while traveling
  • Breakdown gift boxes before placing in recycle bin
  • While shopping online, use only HTTPS sites
  • Never shop on a public network
  • Do not share children’s names, birthdays, or plans online
  • Pay cash when possible, avoiding credit and debit cards
  • Use ID protection tools
  • Keep an eye on your credit cards, especially newly opened ones
  • Watch for skimmers at ATMs and pay for gas inside

Do you have a loved one in need of bond? ATX Bail Bonds is the one to call for bail bonds services in Austin, TX. Call us today at 512-834-2245!