Open Forum- Matt Herndon
The holiday season is one of joy, hope and friendship. Unfortunately, it’s also one of opportunity for thieves who are looking to steal your holiday gifts or ransack your home while you’re away. This winter, be prepared with strong security measures to stop these criminals in their tracks.
Make your home an unattractive target
The first step in protecting your home from thieves is convincing them that robbing you is too risky. Advertise your home’s alarm system, if you have one. Even if you don’t have a security system, you should act as if you do – a window sticker or yard sign proclaiming that an alarm protects your home will scare away most thieves. You can also discourage criminals by keeping your yard free of hedges, statues and other landscaping elements that could provide good hiding places. Criminals won’t be willing to walk across an open, bare lawn. The risk of being seen is simply too high. Finally, consider installing a light that responds to motion. Being singled out by an outdoor light will certainly make any criminal more likely to abandon plans to rob you.
Hide your holiday purchases
During the holiday season, you’re probably buying gifts, many of which are new electronics or trending toys. These items are popular with thieves, so it’s crucial that you keep your gift buying under wraps. Never use social media to discuss the gifts you’ve bought; you don’t want criminals knowing that there’s a new-in-box gaming system under your tree, just inside your front door. Also, avoid leaving presents in your car, open garage or any other highly visible and easily accessible location. Similarly, place your Christmas tree, and the gifts beneath it, well away from windows – a large tree surrounded by wrapped boxes and protected only by glass will beckon to any thief.
Create the illusion that you’re always at home
An empty house is a vulnerable house, at least to a thief. When you head out of town for your holiday vacation, don’t advertise your absence. Never post information about your travel itinerary on social media sites; wait until you’re home to share those pictures of the grandkids opening their presents. Otherwise, thieves who access your updates will see your absence as an invitation to rob your home. Additionally, make sure that your house itself doesn’t reveal that you’re out of town. Install light timers in multiple rooms, program your TV or radio to turn on for an hour each night and have your mail held at the post office until you return. If you’re on good terms with your neighbors, ask one of them to shovel your snow and park in your driveway from time to time. In some neighborhoods, you can even ask the police for a Vacation Watch; officers will stop by your home periodically to check for disturbances.
The holidays should be a time of good cheer and kindness – when neighbors reach out to one another and families reconnect. However, not everyone exhibits this holiday spirit. Thieves are waiting to take advantage of your holiday shopping and long winter vacations. This year, use the above security tips, from installing an alarm system sign to having your mail stopped, to foil those thieves and keep your holiday season merry and bright.