The holiday season is always a special time when families and friends come together to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. It’s also a time of generosity and giving and should be a joyous and happy time for all of us. Unfortunately, thieves view the holiday season a little differently. For this less desirable element of our society, it is a time of opportunity to burglarize your home for easy cash, credit cards, and all the new gifts of small electronics, computers and jewelry… all items that are easy to carry and easy to sell quickly.
Below are a few tips on how to protect your, family, your loved ones and your possessions during this festive season. These tips will help you enjoy the holidays without incident.
- Thieves will look for an easy entry with good escape routes. Don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in front of a window so it’s easily visible from the street. It’s too tempting for them to smash the window and grab the wrapped packages. If there is easy access to the window, they can actually do this without even fully entering your home.
- Thieves look for cues that you are away such as outdoor lights burning 24 hours a day, piled up newspapers, unattended mail or flyers left lying around. Use an inexpensive light timer when you are away and ask a neighbor to keep the front of your home clean of papers and debris.
- Thieves know where to look for the hidden key near the front entrance. There also might be a chance that they are watching and will notice if a key is used regularly by your children. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to a trusted neighbor.
- Thieves prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows. Sliding windows that are not secure can be seen from distance. Often, during the holidays, as a convenience, exterior Christmas light extension cords are run inside through a window that is left slightly ajar, preventing it from being secured. Hire an electrician or handyman to install an inexpensive exterior outlet for your holiday lights.
- Don’t leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages like, “You’ve reached the Thompson’s…we’re away skiing for the Christmas holidays…please leave a message.” Thieves love to hear that they have plenty of time to break in and completely ransack your home. The same applies to Social Media. Never announce that you will be away. You may trust your friends… but can you trust their friends. Social media is NOT as secure as you might think. Broadcasting to the entire world that you are not home is always a bad idea.
- After the Christmas fun is all done and the clean up remains, don’t pile up empty gift boxes from your new computer, entertainment, or game system on the street for the garbage man. Thieves appreciate knowing that you have expensive gifts inside for them to steal. Break them down or cut them up to conceal the items better. And to double up on the pain of being attacked once, the chances of being burglarized again are increased as the criminals know that you will probably be replacing the stolen items.
- Another trend with thieves is stealing parcels that are delivered to your front door. You can avoid this grab and dash stealing by shipping items directly to the carrier for pickup (i.e. Fedex, UPS, DHL). You can also send the mail to your work address or a neighbor who you know will be home.
- Last, but not least, fortify your home by installing solid core doors, heavy duty locks, longer screws in the lock strike plates and door hinges, and install secondary security devices on all accessible sliding windows. Installing an electronic doorbell camera that will catch anyone approaching your door and a camera angle on the street to spot suspicious vehicles so you can get a better description is also of great value as well.
Following these easy tips and small home security upgrades will make your home that much safer for you and your family over the holiday season. Remember that a thief is always looking for the easiest and fastest way to procure your property. If you make it easy for them, you’ll be a target. Even these minor changes will be enough of a deterrent to make them think twice.