Starting with Thanksgiving, the holiday season is typically a time when police departments see an uptick in burglary and theft reports. Criminals know that many homes will be unoccupied for prolonged periods of time as people are away visiting family, making it a prime opportunity to break in.
Whether you’re headed out of town or just over to a family member or friend’s house for a few hours, here are a few ideas to keep your belongings safe while you’re away:
- Secure all valuables in a safe; this includes credit cards, jewelry, cash, etc. While you don’t need a bank vault installed in your home, there are plenty of smaller safes that can be secured to the floor via screws or bolts that are perfectly suitable (if you rent, check with your landlord first).
- Jot down the serial numbers of your consumer electronics. Save them in a safe space or on a secure cloud file. These will help the police recover your items if they’re stolen and someone tries to sell them at a pawn shop.
- If you own your home, or your landlord will allow you to make modifications, consider installing security cameras and ample exterior lighting. Ensure that all exterior doors have both a handle lock as well as a deadbolt.
- When ordering gifts online, consider being discreet as you dispose of the boxes they come in. A massive pile of cardboard next to your house can indicate a worthwhile break-in to an unscrupulous passerby. Break down the boxes as much as possible and don’t put them out until the evening before your recycling gets picked up.
If you do come home and find that you’ve been broken into, call the police immediately and don’t go inside if you have any suspicion that the burglar might still be present.
[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]