Be prepared: Tips to deal with wallet theft, vehicle break-ins

Jackie Keating

Corvallis is a great town full of great people. Most people here, when they find something of value that isn’t theirs, will turn it into the police or make sure it gets to the rightful owner.

But not everyone is this way. Recently, Corvallis has witnessed a series of vehicle break-ins. Many Oregon State University students were the victims.

It is a good idea to keep your valuables with you instead of in your car, and to take them with you if your house will be vacant for the weekend. However, if you wake up one morning to realize that your stuff has been stolen, there are a few steps to take in order to hopefully get it back.

First, if you purse, wallet or any other credit card holder has been stolen, it’s very important that you call your credit card companies as soon as possible, because the criminal can be using your credit card numbers online even if most of the stores around town are closed. You will usually need your social security number and other personal information so that the credit card company can identify you, close down your accounts and send you a new card.

If you are prompt about notifying your bank and card companies, they will often reimburse you for the charges the thief made on your account.

I understand that we’re college students and that we probably don’t have a ton of credit cards in our wallets in the first place, but I’ll warn anyway that it’s not a good idea to carry too many. I would suggest a limit of two.

You might also want to keep a list of everything you keep in your wallet or purse, so that in the unfortunate event that it’s stolen, you’ll be able to give a detailed description of what’s lost in a police report.

It’s important that you file a report with the police as soon as you’re sure your stuff has been stolen. You can do this online or call the non-emergency Corvallis police department number at 541-766-6924.

If the theft occurred on campus, you can also call 541-737-3010, which is the campus non-emergency number.

The police officer will ask you to give him or her a description and estimated value of what you’ve lost, your full name, and other details about what happened. It’s also helpful to have information from your credit card company like the locations and times that your cards were wrongfully used so that the police can search video surveillance tapes at ATMs and stores where the card was used and help to catch the culprit.

The next thing you should do is notify anyone else who might have been on your credit card, so that their cards aren’t suddenly denied without them knowing why. If you have auto-pay set up for bills or rent, you should let those companies know that your card has been deactivated and that you’ll receive a new one soon, so that they don’t think you’re flaking out on your payments.

If your credit cards or any other bank information have not been stolen, and instead someone swiped an expensive pair of shoes, your laptop or your favorite jacket, you might have a harder time tracking your stolen items down.

Still, you should definitely report these items to the police as soon as possible, because if they catch the thief and find a hoard of stolen goods, they might be able to return your things to you based on your report. They might also be able to note a pattern of break-ins and help prevent others from being victims of theft.

Getting stolen from is an icky feeling, but there are ways to prevent it, and ways to take action to help preventing it happening to your neighbors.

The most important thing is to stay safe. If you see a theft in progress, call the Corvallis Police Department immediately.

The opinions expressed in Keating’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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