(BPT) – When you think of the holidays, celebrations, presents and friends likely come to mind – not crime. Unfortunately, burglaries increase at this time of year, and your home could be a target. With a few simple safety precautions, you can protect your property, your family and your valuables now and well into the new year.
“Taking steps to protect your home during the holidays isn’t radically different from what most people should be doing the rest of the year,” says Thomas Leman, a retired 27-year veteran of the police force and criminal justice professor at Argosy University Online. “The problem is that most people get lured into a false sense of security and tend to let their guard down, thinking that crime won’t happen to them.”
Take precautions today to protect your home and deter criminals. Consider these five simple steps:
Step 1: Decorate with care
When it comes to holiday decorations, modesty is definitely the best policy, says Leman. “While you may love the look of a Christmas tree in your front window, expensive decorations on display can be a signal that there are valuables inside your home worth a criminal’s time. Gifts under the tree are the most blatant of these displays and are a welcome invitation for thieves.” Leaving gifts tucked away until the last possible minute is a quick and easy safety precaution. If you must display presents, make sure they are out of sight from any windows or doorways.
Step 2: Lock it up
Whether you are home, running errands or away on vacation, take care to close and lock all doors and windows. Remember to set alarms, too. “Given that most people have extra valuables and gifts in their homes during this time, it’s a good idea to practice home safety whether you’re there or not,” says Leman. Leman adds that a simple dowel placed in a sliding glass door or window can be an inexpensive way to secure vulnerable entrance points. “Alarms or closed circuit video surveillance systems are a great and inexpensive way to protect your home,” he adds.
Step 3: Light the night
A well-lit and well-groomed home provides an important measure of safety. “The better the lighting in your home and yard, the fewer places there are for criminals to lurk,” says Leman. USAA, a leading provider of banking, insurance and investment services to the military community, recommends the 3 foot/6 foot rule: trim branches to 6 feet off the ground and shrubs down to 3 feet to minimize hiding places for burglars.
Step 4: Dispose smartly
It’s best not to alert strangers to the new 70-inch flat screen in your home by leaving the box on the curb for refuse pickup. “When it comes to big-ticket items and valuables, boxes on the curb can be an advertisement for the new valuables in your home,” cautions Leman. “Take the time to break down boxes and recycle them or put them on the curb over time and inconspicuously,” he says.
Step 5: Be a tricky traveler
Be proactive about home safety if you have holiday travel plans. Never let mail or newspapers pile up at your home, as it is an instant indicator you are not there. Have a neighbor collect mail and newspapers or have your service stopped by calling the post office and newspaper provider. “Set your lights and television on timers,” suggests Leman, who also advises homeowners to have a neighbor park their car in your driveway intermittently to keep up the appearance that someone is coming and going.
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