Halloween is over, so it's time to start thinking about the holidays!
Each year, along with all the joys of the holiday season, we also see an increase in criminal activity. Most of these are crimes of convenience or opportunity. According to the FBI, nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the US from November through December each year. Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of the holiday thief:
•Do not leave valuables in your vehicles - especially computers, electronics or wallets.
•Do not store presents in the garage or in a vehicle.
•Lock all vehicles.
•When possible, keep all vehicles in a garage and keep the garage door closed.
•Keep all windows and doors locked – both to your vehicle and to your home.
•If you have an alarm – use it! Consider installing a system if you do not currently have one in place.
•Only turn on Christmas tree lights when someone is home.
•Use outdoor lights as a deterrent. Motion-detector spotlights are great!
•Place all outdoor lights and some indoor lights/TVs on timers when you are out of town.
•Take a reserved approach when displaying expensive decorations and gifts – if they can be seen from the street, there is a good chance that these valuables could end up on a burglar’s wish list!
•After the holidays – be careful when discarding empty boxes from items like computers, flat screen TVs, etc. Instead, break them down, put them in large bags, and place them in your recycle bin or trash can. Another option is taking them directly to the recycle center.
•Keep plant material pruned below window level. Also make sure large bushes, hedges, and trees are kept pruned to avoid giving burglar's easy hiding spots in your yard.
•Do not store ladders outside where they are easily accessible.
•Shred all documents that may contain personal information before disposal.
•Arrange to have your mail picked up or held when you are out of town. Stop newspapers or have them picked up.
•Do not use your mailbox for outgoing mail. Drop all mail in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox.
•Let a trusted neighbor know when you will be out of town. Make sure the neighbor has your contact information in case of emergency.
•Let your local police department know you will be out of town. Most police departments will add the home to a watch list and check the property a few times while you are out of town.
•Do not open your door for people you are not expecting.
•Be aware of your neighbors and surroundings.
•Report all suspicious activity to 9-1-1 immediately!
Obviously, some of these tips apply throughout the entire year and not just during the holidays. However, preventing break-ins by increasing your home security during the holidays should be part of your plan during the busy and wonderfully hectic season of shopping and gift-giving, decorating and celebrating with friends and family. Don’t let an incident, like a burglary, dampen your holiday season!