Police Issue New Warnings for Keeping Post-Christmas Burglars Away
Keep your presents and purchases protected by following these tips.
The holiday season is quickly coming to a close, with New Year's Eve right around the corner. Unless your celebrations were delayed by travel mishaps last week, you've probably already given out and received all of your gifts by now. But while it's tempting to sit back and relax for the rest of the year, police warn this is one of the most important times to be on high alert for thieves. Read on to find out how the authorities recommend keeping yourself safe from post-Christmas burglars.
Holiday burglaries are the costliest kind.
While porch pirates are top-of-mind when having gifts shipped to you ahead of the holidays, the entire month of December is a perilous time, and criminals don't let up after gifts are unwrapped.
According to a study conducted by home services platform Porch, 83,000 burglaries occurred throughout the month last year—and they're the costliest all year. The average value of stolen items in December was $2,891, which was 5 percent higher than the annual average.
The Porch study further points out that jewelry and precious metals are 11 percent more likely to be taken during the holidays, while computers, coats, and furs are 8 percent more likely to be snatched. But even after Christmas, police are aware of heightened theft, which is why they're now offering tips to prevent burglars from targeting your home.
One person's trash is another person's treasure.
The Hoover Police Department (HPD) in Hoover, Alabama, recently cautioned residents to be careful about what they're throwing away, and how. You might not think about your garbage being attractive to thieves, but in a list of "Holiday Crime Prevention" tips, police say that burglars will take certain boxes as a welcome invitation to rob you.
"Avoid leaving boxes from purchases (especially TVs, electronics, appliances, etc.) out on the curb for trash pickup," the notice reads. As the department told 1819 News, this can tell thieves what might be waiting for them inside your home.
Instead of just leaving boxes outside, Hoover police recommend breaking them down and hiding them from sight in garbage bags. They should then be put into your trash can until they can be picked up, 1819 News reports.
Keep your travel plans on the DL, too.
Beyond just making sure your trash is concealed, police warn you not to post expensive gifts or holiday travel plans on your social media accounts.
"Don't announce travel plans to people who do not need to know. Sometimes a simple vacation conversation with a stranger can be much more sinister than it appears," police say, per 1819 News. If you are planning to take a vacation at the tail-end of the holidays, don't leave spare keys in obvious spots, and wait to post your sunny seaside pics until you get back.
Additionally, any time you leave your home, you should lock the doors, as thieves will target and easily enter unlocked cars and houses. You can even make it seem like you're still at home when you're not by leaving lights or the television on, Hoover police say. Smart lighting is another wise investment—you can control the settings from a phone or tablet when you're away instead of relying on a pre-set timer.
"Never turn the lights on and off with a set timer; you don't want to set a recognizable pattern," police say, per 1819 News.
You should still be prepared in the event of a robbery.
Even if you're exceedingly cautious, theft can, unfortunately, still occur. Surveillance cameras can help police identify bad actors, but you can take other preventive measures.
Police recommend keeping an inventory of your belongings, especially if Santa was good to you this year. Hoover police say you can go a step further and write down the makes, models, and serial numbers for any electronics, firearms, or appliances that you may have. Take photos of jewelry and heirlooms that don't have these identifiers, and store digital images in a safe place. The HPD even provides a helpful table that you can print and fill out with relevant details.