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State Farm® Reveals The Top 15 States Where A Suspicious Santa May Appear


Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Arizona, Georgia And California Are The Top States Where Home Burglaries Have Increased.
Bloomington, Ill.- A new State Farm study released today identifies the top 15 states that may see a glimpse of a Suspicious Santa this holiday season.

After analyzing claims data for 2004, 2005, 2006 and the first nine months of 2007, State Farm has discovered an upward trend in homeowner theft. This year alone, State Farm expects to handle more than 92,000 claims that involve a break-in and burglary. This is a 2% increase from the prior year.

In an effort to keep this holiday season merry, State Farm is encouraging all consumers to properly secure their homes and belongings before leaving on a family vacation.

“Would-be burglars typically target homes that appear to be vacant for the holidays,” says Betsy McDermeit, Underwriting Analyst for State Farm. There are several ways a homeowner can make their home less appealing to a suspicious character.

“For additional peace of mind when traveling this holiday, homeowners may want to consider adding high grade bolt-type locks, strong door frames and doors, impact resistant windows, an audible alarm system, and outdoor lighting to their holiday shopping list,” adds Mc Dermeit. “Sometimes a little prevention can be a good investment.”

To determine the top 15 states in this study, State Farm developed a weighted average for each state and then compared it against the company national average. The results of this study identify Nevada as having the highest probability of homeowner theft in the country. However, Arizona, which is ranked fourth on this list, has seen a sharp increase in homeowner theft this year. State Farm 2007 data indicates Nevada has had 3,010 burglaries within a nine month time frame.

The states least likely to see a Suspicious Santa this season are: South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota. To view a complete list of the top 15 states mentioned in this study, members of the media are asked to visit State Farm’s Homeowners Theft Losses study.

To help safeguard your home this holiday season, State Farm has compiled the following homeowner theft prevention tips.

How to prevent a Suspicious Santa from paying you a visit

* Fool these criminal characters by making your home look occupied all the time.
* Use automatic timers on lights when away from home.
* If possible, always park your cars in the garage with the garage door shut.
* If you are parking your car in the driveway, don’t leave loose items of value such as MP3 players or GPS units in the vehicle.
* Avoid displaying your holiday gifts from your front window.

A Suspicious Santa may notice a pattern that a closed garage door or no cars in the driveway means no one is home. Closing the garage door and having curtains or blinds on the garage windows also hides some of your belongings.

* Place radios on automatic timers and raise the volume so they can be heard outside by his would-be elves.
* Lower the sound of your telephone ringer and answering machine so they can’t be heard outside.
* Never leave notes on your door that can tip off burglars.

When away for more than a day:

* Have your telephone calls forwarded when you are away from home. Suspicious Santassometimes check to see if you are home by making a telephone call.
* Have a trusted neighbor pick up the mail and newspaper. Do not have either stopped. That gives information about you being away from home to others whom you do not know.
* If away for an extended period, have a plan in place to have the grass mowed or snow shoveled.
* If you are away from home on garbage pickup day, ask a trusted neighbor to put your garbage cans out to the street and take them back in. You may wish to have your neighbor use your garbage cans while you are out. Suspicious Santas sometimes check for empty cans as a sign the family is away.
* There are systems available that will open and close window draperies with a timer.
* Tell a trusted neighbor if you are going to be gone for a few days.
* Ask your local police to check your home periodically.

In short, make your house look the same whether you are away or at home.

* Make sure there is good lighting around your parking space.
* Install motion detector lights around your house instead of just leaving lights on at night. The lights turning on and turning off attract the attention of neighbors. Install these lights at least 8 feet above the ground so they are more difficult to disable.
* Install the motion detector lights so they light all doors and windows. Since they are the preferred entry point, doors should be the first priority to illuminate, followed by windows.
* Remove bushes and shrubs from around the house, especially under windows and next to doors to eliminate hiding places. Keep your yard free of overgrowth.
* If you DO have shrubs and bushes, select ones with thorns to deter potential intruders from hiding in them.
* Install a security alarm system with a loud alarm and/or flashing lights. This will attract the attention of neighbors. Display the decals, and remember to test the system periodically.

Use common sense caution

* Always lock all doors and windows when you leave the house.
* Use a peephole to identify visitors before opening your door.
* Do not hide spare keys outside your home; instead give one to trusted neighbor.
* Do not provide your house keys to service people.
* Do not invite strangers into your home.
* Do not have money or jewelry lying out in view from a window. If possible, keep jewelry and other small valuables and important documents in a safe deposit box.
* Do not tell strangers your daily routines.
* If you are at home working outside, leave all other doors that are out of sight locked.
* Avoid telling others about the valuables in your home.
* If you have children, discuss home security with them, such as not talking with strangers about their home, its contents or family schedules.

Strengthen Your Home

* Install door locks with an ANSI™ Grade 1 classification on all exterior doors and any doors from attached garages.
* Install impact resistant glass in any location within 42" of a door lock. This will make it more difficult to break the glass, reach in, and unlock the lock.
* Install strong doors and doorframes on all exterior doors and doors from attached garages.
* Install automatic openers on garage doors or bolt-type locks on each end of the garage doors.
* Install additional window locks, especially on all windows that are accessible from the ground.
* Install impact resistant glass in all basement windows. Basement windows are an often-used access point.
* Install security-type hinges on all exterior doors and any doors from attached garages.
* Properly install doorframes on all exterior doors and doors from attached garages so they cannot be spread apart.
* Install security-type door strikes on all exterior doors and doors from attached garages.
* If your community police department has a crime prevention program, ask them to assess your home for security weaknesses.

Documenting and Safekeeping your Valuables

* During this holiday season, State Farm recommends that homeowners/renters take inventory of their personal belongings and keep their bills of sale.
* Take inventory of your valuables from your most recent holiday purchases to other high worth items such as art work, collectibles, and jewelry.
* Videotape and/or photograph your valuables

As a free public service, all US consumers have access to a free inventory software program called “Possessions Matters.” This unique program allows limitless entries, categories and locations. You can even enter photos of your possessions, invoices and warranties. Possessions Matters also quickly compiles and prints insurance claim and theft reports for the police. To download this program, please visit State Farm’s Possessions Matters page.

Attention News Directors and Assignment Editors

Video Available: B-Roll footage of a Suspicious Santa gaining entry into a home has been provided along with a “Top 15 states” graphic and sound bites on how to prevent homeowner theft this holiday.

VIA Pathfire: This material will be available on the Pathfire Digital Media Gateway (DMG) under the story slug “Suspicious Santa.” If you have questions or problems locating the story, contact Pathfire Customer Support at 888-345-0489 or If you do not have access to Pathfire’s DMG please call Aymee Ruiz at 786-394-9503.

State Farm® insures more cars and homes than any other insurer in the U.S., is the leading insurer of watercraft and is also a leading insurer in Canada. State Farm’s 17,000 agents and 68,000 employees serve over 76 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and more than 1.7 million bank accounts. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 31 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit® or in Canada®.


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