Christmas trees are popping up in people's windows all over town, but those cheerful decorations can also lead to an increase in crime.
To you it may look like a festive decoration of pine, lights, and ornaments. But to a potential robber, that pile of presents under the tree is almost like a home-shopping catalog, law-enforcement experts warn.
Keeping your presents to yourself doesn't mean you have to take down your Christmas decorations. But you may want to keep in mind some tips for preventing burglary during the holidays. For example:
- Keep presents out of sight. Your holiday decorations don't need a pile of presents to look lovely. Frame the tree and those beautiful lights in the window, but make sure there are no gifts visible from outside. Tuck them under the window ledge or keep them hidden away until Christmas. Few burglars will come right up to the window to look inside, but what they can see from the yard or the sidewalk may give them ideas. You don't want your display to be the most tempting in your neighborhood.
- Break down any boxes. It's not just the wrapped boxes inside that can tip off criminals. The boxes you leave out on the curb on garbage day can also send a message to would-be burglars. Especially for big-ticket items like television sets and computers, take a few extra minutes to break down big boxes and put them in a recycling bin rather than just leaving them on the sidewalk. You can brag to the neighbors about your gifts at your holiday party. Don't display them in your garbage pile.
- Don't let your home look unoccupied. Most break-ins occur when no one is home, as burglars don't want to deal with people walking in while they're trying to make a quick getaway. Cancel your mail while you're out of town or ask a neighbor to pick it up so it doesn't pile up out front. If you can, invest in a motion-sensitive light on the driveway or put the lights in front-facing rooms on a timer so they don't stay dark the whole time you're gone. If it looks like you're home, it's less likely someone will try to break in.