After a busy day of working as a travel physical therapist, I returned by foot to my parked car in the Bay Area. As I started to approach, I noticed some glass on the floor, so imagine my shock as I got closer and saw the window smashed in. Sadly, working as a travel physical therapist in this area, I know that these incidents happen all too frequently. In fact, The San Francisco Chronicle reported an increase of a whopping 753% for car break-ins within the Central District from May 2020 to May 2021.
As well as the frustration of a damaged car, when I started to look around, I realized how many of my valuables had been stolen. I had my personal laptop, phone, passport, social security card, vaccination card, home health bag, and even my Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi taken from my car. As you probably know, this area is close to Silicon Valley, meaning the thieves use advanced technology to assist with their break-ins. Keep reading as I share my top tips for avoiding this type of incident when working as a travel healthcare worker.
Preventing a Car Break-In
There are many ways in which you can prevent a car break-in, and as a traveling healthcare worker, you may find that you are more of a target to thieves in the area. A huge issue in the Bay Area is that of drive-by break-ins. It takes just seconds for them to smash your window and take anything out of your car. Follow these tips to avoid experiencing the same situation that I did:
One of the biggest concerns for me was that my sensitive information could be stolen after the break-in. Fortunately, my friend worked in cyber security for the FBI and shared some top tips with me. The first step you need to take is to contact your credit card company, banks and block your credit or debit cards. If someone did take your cards, then they won’t be able to use your card. You will also want to consider a credit freeze. This can stop someone from opening a new account in your name, preventing fraud to some extent. I also recommend paying for a service called LifeLock that can track your identity online and credit inquires online. It is an online security monitoring service that provides insurance if any money is lost due to someone using your identity.
If you lost an electronic device during the break-in, when you are able to get online, log out of all of your social media accounts and email accounts. Change all of your passwords with a password app like Dashlane or keep them written down on paper in a secret location. As for the password you select, I recommend mixing things up with a 16 digit password containing lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers, and symbols. At this time, you’ll also want to contact your insurance provider or pay for a service that can assist with tracking your stolen items.
After dealing with the electronics, contact department of the state to notify if passport stolen and apply for a new passport. Of course, all of these tips will depend on your personal situation and what was lost in the break-in, but it’s always better to act with caution during a situation like this. Ultimately, if you only lost material items in the break-in, try to count your blessings.
While I lost a good number of possessions during my incident, I am healthy and live to tell another day. I decided to share my story because if it helps to prevent just one break-in within the local area, it was well worth it. By following these top tips shared above, you can help to prevent a break-in from occurring while working on the road this year. Safe travels!
Yonas Tekeste is a travel physical therapist originally from Chicago, Illinois. He graduated with his DPT degree in May of 2018. He is currently working a home health contract in San Francisco, CA. In his free time, he likes to listen to podcasts, exercise, and hike. The best way to contact Yonas is through Facebook or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A resource I wish would have been available to me beginning as a therapist is “Rate My Therapy Company” Facebook group. This community was created to make it easier for therapists to learn about companies before applying. This group allows therapists to rate companies and provide valuable information on factors such as pay, productivity, and company culture.