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Thompson: Show your house, not your valuables

POSTED: November 8, 2009 1:00 a.m.

There has been a rash of robberies recently of people who are trying to sell their homes. The scam goes like this: Two separate people show up at the same time at an open house. One of the two will keep the owner, or agent, busy while the other person steals jewelry or financial information. If you're trying to sell your home, make sure that all of your valuables are locked up and out of sight.

When you travel, you need to take duct tape with you. I'm serious about this. Here's one important reason why: You're probably aware of the recent incident where ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was videotaped by someone who was looking through the peephole in the door of her hotel room. When you check into a room, one of the first things you need to do is put a piece of duct tape over the peephole. By doing this, you are ensuring that no one can see in. You can always remove the tape to see out.

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner have written a sequel to their wildly successful book, "Freakonomics." If you're not familiar with them, Levitt is an economist who studies off-the-wall things such as why drug dealers make less money than McDonald's employees, (yes, they do make less money). In their new book, "Super Freakonomics," they tell the story of a psychologist who had a problem with her office's break room. Turns out a lot of her fellow employees were not putting money into the "honesty box" for the coffee they were drinking. The psychologist ran an experiment. She put a picture of human eyes above the box every other week. On the rest of the weeks she would put up a picture of flowers. She found that on the weeks that she had the picture of the eyes the amount of donations in the honesty box would triple. The tip here is that "scarecrows" work on people, too. (I wonder if my pastor would be willing to put a picture of eyes on the offering plate.)

Tim Thompson lives in Gainesville. E-mail Tim your ideas for tips, tools or tricks.



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