Nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States in November and December each year, according to the FBI. The National Crime Prevention Council recommends home owners take extra precautions to protect their homes during the holidays, due to the many home invasions at this time of year.
“During the holidays, homes are often filled with expensive gifts, the good silver is out and people are in a festive mood — they aren’t thinking about home security the way they should,” says John Heppner, President and CEO of Fortune Brands Storage and Security, including Master Lock Company L.L.C. “In addition, the busy holiday pace of parties, shopping and events leaves many homes dark and empty more often than at other times of the year. Whether home owners are out or just asleep upstairs, the spoils of holiday-timed thefts are just too tempting for many burglars.”
A few proactive measures and common sense can prevent your holiday season from being wrecked by a break-in. Follow these tips and enjoy a safer and happier holiday season.
First and foremost, lock up! Whether it’s a short trip to the grocery store or a longer haul to finish some holiday shopping, make sure your doors and windows are securely locked. Never leave boxes from expensive gifts laying on the curb for trash pickup. Consider crushing them and placing them in a large, black garbage bag.
“Break down boxes from expensive gifts and turn them inside out,” John Lisle, a spokesman for the Arlington County Police Department in Arlington, Va., says.
Remember that nothing is more effective at deterring a burglar than the impression that the home is occupied. Make it look like it is by installing timers on your lights.
“Have a friend or a neighbor collect your mail,” Lisle says. He also recommends temporarily stopping newspaper and mail service if your neighbors can’t help you out.
Store valuables like jewelry in a secure place. A home safe can be a great option for storing various valuables including important home and family-related documents.
Keep your garage door closed at all times. Garage doors are a favorite point of entry for burglars. Keep the door from your garage into your home locked as well.
Be sure that your trees and shrubs don’t hide windows and doors. Blocked entrances can make it easier for burglars to get into your home unnoticed by neighbors and passers-by.
Leave spare keys only with trusted family members or neighbors you are close to. Do not hide them outside. Burglars are smart enough to look around and know the common places people hide keys.
Be certain that tools, ladders and other objects that could be used to break into your home are securely locked up inside the house. If you will be away for a lengthy period, entertain the idea of a house sitter. It may turn out to be well worth the money.
You may also want to consider a home security system. Check online or look in your phone book to find companies specializing in home security.
Most experts agree that your neighbors are your best defense. Get to know them and chances are they will be more likely to watch for suspicious activity around your home while you’re away.
Break-ins can be easily avoided by taking the proper precautions. So be prepared, make wise decisions and relax. While the holidays can be stressful, by following these tips, you’ll find yourself more at ease and ready to celebrate the season.
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