Gifts are given for many special occasions, the largest probably being the Christmas holiday. Christmas and Hanukkah traditions include gift giving and many businesses gift employees and clients at year’s end. Although gift giving is big business to retailers, the tradition of giving gifts has a time honored history, and hopefully reflects joy and thanksgiving for all.
Unfortunately, recent headlines remind us that holiday gift giving is perceived differently by local burglars. For them, the holidays are an opportunity to steal cash, credit cards, and new electronics, jewelry, and other easily sold valuables.
Rice County law enforcement agencies typically report increased crime during the holidays. In 2011, the FBI reported nearly 400,000 burglaries during November and December alone. Of those burglaries, single family homes were the most frequent target, with 70% of burglars described as amateurs that found an easy target. The holidays should be a time of celebration, not a time of worry over stolen gifts, a loss of peace and security, and worst of all, potential injury or death. (The deaths of two teens in Minnesota during a Thanksgiving break in made recent headlines.)
As we go through the holidays, here are a few tips to discourage a burglary:
Don’t display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window of your home. They are easily visible and easily accessible to burglars.
Don’t hide spare keys above door frames, etc. Burglars know where to look.
Don’t leave descriptive voice messages (or Facebook posts) announcing that you’re on vacation. A burglar will consider it an invite into your home.
Don’t leave empty packaging from the new Xbox or television on the street awaiting garbage day. It becomes an easy decision for a burglar to stop at your home.
If you are traveling, stop your mail and conceal your garbage and recycling containers.
When you are not at home, make your house look occupied. Leave a television on, or utilize timers or motion sensors to turn on lights.
Be cautious of strangers that stop by. Feigned stories (“I’m searching for a lost pet”) are excuses for burglars to scope out your home.
Clearly display your house number. Law enforcement can then quickly respond to calls for assistance or suspicious activity.
Retain receipts and record serial numbers for major purchases. And take photographs of the interior and exterior of your house to assist in identifying missing items if a burglary happens.
Check all doors and windows to be sure they are secured.
If your home is equipped with an alarm system, use it. Alarm systems, visible security signs, and window decals will deter burglars looking for an easy target.
Schedule online purchases to be delivered when you are home. Packages left on doorsteps are a gift to burglars canvassing your neighborhood.
I hope these tips keep any Grinch from spoiling your holiday.
Have a Happy New Year.