What could ruin a holiday faster than an overcooked turkey or a canceled flight? How about thieves ransacking Christmas presents and other valuables during what’s supposed to be a magical time of year? That will surely put a damper on the holidays.
Recently, CNN reported that Californian’s can expect an 18 percent increase in burglaries during December, so many of our friends and family will experience this unfortunate event. But why are thieves more active during this time of year? After all, most of us have nice TVs and jewelry in the home all year, so why all the illegal activity around Christmas and the New Year?
A few reasons seem to stand out.
LEAVING CLUES FOR THIEVES
Christmas trees are a beautiful holiday tradition, but they’re also advertising to burglars where they can find the gifts in your home. Keep them away from front windows if possible because if thieves are casing your neighborhood Christmas trees are a quick way of spotting who is likely to have expensive gifts in the home.
OBVIOUSLY EMPTY HOMES
Leaving for vacation often makes it seem obvious that your home is empty. Investing in timers for lights, motion-activated lighting outside the home, and exterior security cameras will deter would-be criminals. Consider setting a radio on a timer, so music plays during in the morning and evenings, further creating the impression someone is at home. If you live in an area where it snows, like the hills of Humboldt County, a snow-covered driveway can be a dead giveaway that no one is at home, so work out a plan to keep snow cleared.
TRASH AND RECYCLING BINS REVEAL WHAT YOU GOT FOR CHRISTMAS
Big boxes with Samsung, PlayStation, and Apple emblazoned on the side are tell-tale signals that you recently got some great new electronics. Don’t let thieves know your house is newly outfitted with the latest and greatest gadgets by leaving these boxes on the curb where anyone driving past can see. Instead, break down cardboard so it fits in your recycling bin, or keep it in the house until you can remove it without leaving it out.
VALUABLE PACKAGES ARE LEFT ON YOUR FRONT DOOR
Adobe Digital Insights reported that shoppers spent more than $90 billion online during the 2016 holiday season and that figure is expected to rise 3 to 4 percent this year. All that online shopping means packages will be shipped all over the country, leaving easy targets for thieves on porches from coast to coast. A few smart tactics can prevent your package from being stolen.
-First, reroute the package if possible. If your workplace allows, have the package delivered there where a receiving department will sign for the package.
-If you’re shopping at online retailers with brick-and-mortar stores, consider having items shipped to the store where you can securely pick it up at your convenience.
-At the very least be sure to track your packages. Logistics companies like UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, and FedEx all offer free online tracking and many will send text messages to your phone once the package is dropped off.
-Insuring your package and requiring a signature for delivery can also cut down on the chance of theft.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
A fully-functional alarm system, with glass-break sensors, motion detectors, and security cameras is both a deterrent to crime and the best way get immediate notification if something does happen at your house. You can also invest in shatterproof window film, driveway alarms, and patio door locks. Smart door locks, like SkyBell from security equipment manufacturer Honeywell, send a video of who’s knocking directly to your smartphone.
Other tips include hiding valuables out of view and being diligent about locking doors to both your home and car. Taken together, these tips can help keep you and your family secure and thwart would-be thieves from ruining your holidays.