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As a travel nurse, your job takes you to every corner of the country. While road trips are exciting, traveling and parking overnight with all your belongings in the car can be nerve wracking. With nearly $1.25 billion in items stolen from cars every year, unsupervised cars are a prime target for theft. As you travel across the country to new assignments, apply these tips to make sure you don’t become the next target.
1. Store It Where They Can’t See It
The top tip to prevent yourself from becoming a “smash and grab” victim is a cliché: out of sight, out of mind. What the thieves can’t see won’t tempt them. Keep your belongings in boxes or dark bags so no one can see the contents. Place everything you have in the trunk, if possible. If you have an SUV, get a cover for the rear compartment so thieves can’t see what’s inside. These covers are inexpensive and easy to install.
Never leave your wallet, cell phone, laptop or other valuables in the front seat. This seems like common sense, but even traces of evidence can be enough bait for thieves to break into your car. Hide your cords, chargers and any other evidence of electronics. Better yet, bring all your electronics and their accessories with you whenever you leave your car. You can make carrying everything simpler by packing all your valuables and electronics in a small bag that’s easy to grab as you leave the car.
2. Lock Your Doors and Roll Up Your Windows
You may be rolling your eyes as you read this tip, but some police departments say that up to 25 percent of thefts are from unlocked vehicles. Double check that you have locked your vehicle and rolled up your windows every time, no matter how fast you think you will be buying coffee or using the restroom. In some cars, a rolled down (even cracked) window will deactivate the pressure sensor on the car alarm, which can give the thief more time before the alarm sounds. If you’re worried about your car heating up, try to park in the shade rather than leaving your windows cracked.
3. Park in a Well-Lit Area
It would take the most experienced and brazen thief to break into a car that is illuminated and in a high traffic area, so keep your car where other people can see it.
That means not parking next to dumpsters, walls, large trucks or in dark areas where it would be easy for someone to hide. When you’re parking at a motel overnight, try to park in the front of the building where there’s good visibility from the front desk, or near your window where you’ll be able to easily hear your car alarm if it goes off.
4. Install an Alarm System
If your car doesn’t already have an alarm system, install one. The noise may scare off a thief and will quickly alert people to the activity. Place the decals for the alarm system prominently on your windows to give someone a reason to skip your car when searching for a target. Then be diligent about setting your alarm every time you walk away.
5. Choose Your Accommodations Wisely
If possible, do your research before you start traveling so you can plan where you’re going to stop and where you’ll stay. Always choose hotels and motels in safe areas and read the online reviews. Call to inquire about parking lot safety, such as parking lot attendants and video cameras. When possible, choose a hotel or motel that has parking lot precautions over ones that don’t. It may be the more expensive option, but it is worth it for peace of mind.
Preparing yourself before you travel across the country will give you one less thing to worry about as you venture to your next nursing job. You have enough to think about with a new city, new home and new job, so don’t let theft ruin your trip.