Thieves love Christmas. We are often so excited about the holidays and favorite foods and traditions we think everyone is as kind and honest as we are. Nope, as much as we would love that to be true, there are still those anxious to claim our gifts as their own. Do not make it easy for those up to no good.

1) Purchase several timers and begin using them now. The timers will set a pattern and if anyone is watching your home they will not be able to determine if you have left since the same lights go on and off every day whether you are there or not. Be sure the blinds are open enough for the light to be seen but not enough for the thief to see inside.

2) If you receive a telephone call or email from anyone stating they are from the bank, a company you ordered something from, the IRS, a hospital representative, or anyone asking for any personal information (social security number, account numbers, drivers license number, address, etc.), it may easily be a scam. Always ask for their name and telephone number and tell them you will call them back. If they hesitate at all phone your local police and report them. Even if they don’t hesitate remain suspicious and do not return the call. I don’t know of any company who will ask for this information over the phone. Never give personal information to anyone asking for it over the telephone or email.

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3) Do not open the door to anyone you do not know. Be sure your children understand that they are never to open the door. If the person has on a brown uniform but there is no big brown delivery truck in the driveway you know they are up to no good. Call the police and report the incident. This is a good time of the year to keep your doors locked. Thieves will work in teams and while you are occupied at the front door they will slip in the back.

4) Use your home burglar alarm every time you leave your home and when you go to bed.

5) If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers. Why would you do that? Have you ever told a store cashier all the snacks you were buying were for your trip? Have you ever posted your plans on Facebook or another social media site? Comments like, “can’t wait for my mom’s apple pie” or “ Almost done with packing” Remember anything on the internet can be hacked and 80% of incarcerated thieves said they found leads on social media sites.

6) Once Christmas has come and gone thieves have not. It is not time to let down your guard. When discarding boxes break them down so the original contents cannot be determined. You do not want to advertise the new TV or computer.

7) If you will be gone on trash pick-up day ask a neighbor to take out and return your trash can.

8) Begin now leaving outdoor lights on all night long. If you leave for the holidays there will be no change in the pattern of your lighting and thieves hate light.

9) Do not leave a hide a key outside if you will be gone.

10) Close the blinds at night so thieves can’t see the gifts under your tree. Don’t place gifts where they can be seen through the window if someone comes to the door.

11) A dead giveaway that you’re not home? A decked-out home with lights and inflatables turned off. If you have strung up lights or have inflatables, they should be on timers.

12) Arrange for someone to shovel the snow while you are away.

13) Consider your garage’s weaknesses. The garage has some weak points that may make it easy for an intruder to work their way in. If you park your car in the driveway, don’t keep the garage opener in your car; keep it in the house or purse. Cover garage windows so a thief cannot tell if the car is in the garage. Only use a deadbolt lock to secure the doors into the garage and from the garage into the house. And, use them.

14) If you plan to leave on vacation, contact your neighbors and ask them to remove any advertisements that may be placed on your driveway or front door and to keep an eye on your home. Stop your mail and newspaper. Remember the crowded street parking? Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway giving the impression you are home and have visitors.

15) When traveling with gifts in your car place as many as possible in the trunk. For  those that will not fit cover with a black blanket if you have dark upholstery or one that closely matches your upholstery if it is a lighter color. Always park in a well-lighted area.

16) When stopping to fuel up take turns in the restroom or stretching your legs. Do not leave your car unattended. It just takes a minute for an experienced thief to hot wire your car. Wishing you a happy, health and safe Christmas!