Tips to keep from becoming a holiday theft statistic
The following holiday safety tips are provided by Avoyelles Parish Sheriff Doug Anderson to help parish residents from becoming victims of holiday season crimes.
1. Hide presents - Even if you don't have children to hide presents from, make sure criminals can't see them through your windows and doors by hiding them in cupboards and under beds.
2. Look lived in - If you're going away for Christmas, make the house look lived in. Turning on lights when no one's at home in winter can deter burglars. You can buy timers that will turn lights on automatically, or just ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your property, open and close curtains and put lights on. If you're going away, ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway to make it look like someone's home.
3. Look out for suspicious behavior - Keep an eye on any suspicious behavior in the neighborhood. Security cameras for inside and outside the home can enhance your home security and peace of mind, but as they're not within everyone's budget, being vigilant has to be the next best thing.
4. Triple check your locks - Make sure all windows and doors are firmly shut and locked when leaving home. Leaving an entry path slightly open is a temptation for a burglar.
5. Don't leave notes - Don't leave notes for delivery companies saying no one's in. Make sure you've sent instructions about where to leave parcels if you're out.
6. Hide packaging - Make sure all packaging is ripped up and buried in bins, so criminals can't easily see what’s been added to an already festive-filled house.
7. Keep trees and gifts away from windows - Don’t openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the front window so it’s easily visible from the street. It can be tempting for criminals to smash the window and grab wrapped packages.
8. Turn your outside lights on. And then off - Make sure your outside lights aren't burning 24 hours a day, and newspapers or advertising flyers aren't piled up. Again, you might need to ask a neighbor to collect your mail and free papers if you go away.
9. Give a trusted neighbor a spare key - Burglars know to look for the hidden door key near the front entrance. Don’t hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to a trusted neighbor.
10. Don't run electricity cords through window cracks - Burglars prefer to enter through unlocked doors or windows, so an electricity extension cord running through an open window to exterior Christmas lights can be an open invitation. Hire an electrician to install an inexpensive exterior outlet for festive outdoor lights.
11. Check your home phone's answering machine message - Make sure your family name isn't visible outside your house, like on a mailbox. Criminals can get your number from directory enquires and call your home to confirm there's no one in. And don’t leave descriptive telephone answering machine messages like “We’re away skiing for Christmas, please leave a message.” Burglars love to hear they have plenty of time to ransack your home.