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National Yard Sale Day — Here are some yard sale safety tips from your Foothills Crime Prevention Specialist

It’s National Yard Sale Day — here are my tips to have a safe yard sale.

City Rules (for residences):      

One garage/yard sale allowed once every twelve months.  A yard sale may not exceed 3 days in length.  Only normally accumulated household goods can be sold.  Only 1 non-illuminated sign, no more than 6 sq feet area.  No signs in medians or on utility poles.  Call the City’s Zoning & Residential Code office at through the Citizens Contact Center (dial 311) for questions.

Safety in Numbers: Have an assistant to help you.  Assign a designated cashier/bagger.  Consider having a ‘greeter’ — eye contact goes a long way to deter theft!

Visibility: Be out in the open, not hidden away out of sight.  Avoid having a garage sale IN the garage; use the driveway or front yard.  Good sight lines are a key part of crime prevention.

Pricing:   Make sure customers know ALL SALES FINAL.  You want to avoid someone coming back to your home the next day or next weekend trying to return something for a refund.   Put a price on everything.  Put prices on top of items to avoid breakage.  Try bagging the same type of items in clear plastic baggies, staple at the top and sell the baggie for one price (for instance, $1 a bag).  People can see what’s inside, you don’t need to bag items separately and the bag is stapled to prevent swapping out items in one bag for more expensive items elsewhere at your sale.

Pets: Pets can be a distraction and may be stressed with all the extra activity.  Keep them safe inside your residence. A pet could cause a fall, a trip or bite someone.

Children:  Give children safety instructions ahead of time.  Kids can have fun greeting visitors in your presence and help you bag.

Personal Safety: Keep a cordless phone or cell phone with you.  Don’t lay your phone down and walk away; keep it in your pocket.  Try wearing a carpenter’s apron with lots of pockets to keep items safe.  Try not to chat too much so you can stay focused.

Protecting your Home: Keep your home’s doors and windows locked at all times.  Keep the garage door closed.  You don’t want anyone checking out items in your garage for a post-sale burglary.   Be present and visible at all times. Acknowledge everyone – friendly ‘hellos’ and eye contact deter theft. Do not allow anyone inside your residence under any circumstances.

Protecting your personal information: Inspect every item you will be selling to remove any credit card receipts, personal information, etc. Check pockets of clothing, inside books, inside boxed items, etc. You don’t want your personal information in a stranger’s hands.

Display safety:  Watch for trip hazards – cords, boxes, bags, clutter. Don’t put breakables where they could be blown over or knocked over.  If selling a TV, have it on.  If items need batteries, have used batteries on hand to test the items.

Display safety:  Have an extension cord at an outdoor outlet to test electronics.  Put cords way neatly when customer is finished to eliminate a trip hazard. Never allow anyone to test an item inside your home. Make sure anything you don’t want to sell is out of sight.

Mid-way through sale: Stop and assess — use this time to consolidate unsold items.  Consider re-pricing items that are unsold by mid-day.  Consider a ‘FREE’ box at the end of the day so you’ll have less to pack up.  Pack up unnecessary goods and bag up any trash.

Cash Handling:   Have lots of change (singles, quarters); you’ll need it most early in the day.  Set up a centralized table for all purchasing and bagging.  Have the cashier table visible; good sight lines are necessary for safety.  Have a designated cashier (a buyer can’t say they paid someone else for the item).  Guard your money! Keep money in one location.  Keep minimal cash.  Do cash-only sales unless you are willing to risk a bad check.  If you get a large bill ask the customer to get change and come back.  Have a calculator handy; you will have a lot of distractions.  Making change:  leave their bill in view until AFTER you have given change.  This gives you get a chance to double-check the bill you were handed and keeps a dishonest person from short-changing you.  Be familiar with local banks, ATMs (and restrooms) open during your sale so you can direct buyers where to get change, more money to make a purchase or use a public restroom.

Have a safe yard sale!

Jill Garcia, Crime Prevention Specialist / ICPS, NCPS – APD, Foothills Area Command