The whole purpose of a vacation is to leave one’s troubles behind, relax, let down their guard, and throw caution to the wind.
But it is exactly this type of attitude and the habits that come with it that attract thieves to vacation getaways as well.
Those guests in the hotel room next door to you could be thieves, and so could those sunbathers by the pool or folks strolling down the beach.
Thieves are disguised as restaurant delivery services, hotel employees or maintenance workers.
Here are just some of those scams that pop up in beach tourist destinations including the Grand Strand, and tips to keep you and your family safe.
Those menus stuffed under motel room doors are a great temptation to dine in for the evening, but be careful which one you choose and make sure the restaurant is legitimate.
Menu scamming is rare but it does happen.
It’s the reverse of dine and dash, in that criminals are dashing off with your credit card number instead of delivering dinner.
It’s easy enough to check whether the restaurant actually exists by looking it up online. A menu should also have an address listed for the business.
If the “restaurant” insists on getting your credit card number on the phone before delivering a meal, insist on paying cash or with a credit card on delivery.
This is the front desk
Another scam that has been reported locally is the front desk scam. The phone rings and it’s a caller claiming to be a hotel clerk who says there was a problem running your credit card.
It could actually be the front desk, but don’t give the credit card number to the caller. Walk down to the lobby and handle the transaction in person.
Vacations are the perfect time to unplug and leave those cell phones behind to interact more closely with your family and friends. That, plus it’s a common item stolen while on vacation.
Towels make for poor camouflage, and thieves are not fooled when you roll your cell phone into one while taking a dip in the pool. Poolside cell phone thefts are a growing trend.
The beach towel trick doesn’t work on the beach either, and neither does hiding keys and cell phones in shoes. The moment you go for a stroll or dive into the ocean, chances are good that thieves will grab your belongings.
Leave your cell phone locked in the car or in the hotel room. If you must have one with you, make sure someone says behind during swim breaks to guard your stuff.
What’s in that car?
Locals should worry about keeping their garage door openers out of sight, because a thief will break the window to steal it and burglarize your home. How will they know where you live? By looking up the address using the vehicle tag numbers.
Don’t leave anything in sight, whether it’s a cheap GPS, an expensive pair of sunglasses or a Yeti cup. Thieves will steal anything they can sell for a few dollars.
And for Pete’s sake, lock the car doors. It’s amazing how many vacationers here think it’s okay to leave their doors unlocked.
Beach house break-in
Don’t head out to the beach using the glass door unless it can be locked behind you. It might be an inconvenience to exit from another door if necessary, but it’s an even greater hassle to have to fill out a police report because your rental house was burglarized.
Don’t open your hotel door to strangers. If you are not expecting company, or know the person, don’t open the door unless they are yelling fire and the alarms are blazing. Folks have gotten robbed this way. Don’t be a statistic.
Don’t let them into your rental unit until you have checked with the rental company. Just because they are carrying a bug sprayer and creeping you out with tales of bedbugs or fleas, does not mean you should flee the property and leave the service worker alone with your belongings. That goes for anyone claiming to be there at the property owner’s request. Check it out before you let them in the door.
Ocean Boulevard is not Wall Street
If a man standing by an ATM offers to double your money, don’t withdraw cash and hand it to him. He’s just going to keep it. Or as one con man did on the 4th of July, he will demand sexual favors in order for some of the money to be returned.
Vacations are for relaxing, but don’t let down your guard when it comes to your family and property.