The holidays are a time for family gatherings, parties, and gift giving. Although this festive time of year is packed with great times and fond memories, there are a few things to be aware of before leaving home or locking up for the night. This is the time of year when residential burglary is at its peak. Statistics show that there are approximately 400,000 burglaries reported around the holidays each year. There are, however, some measures that can help protect property and families from would-be thieves.

Don’t Leave Gift Boxes At The Curb

Burglars are on the lookout for homes that have boxes from expensive products at the curb for trash pickup. They are most interested in electronics and luxury items. Rather than leaving boxes at the curb, we recommend bringing them to your local recycling company or discarding them in a large dumpster.

Don’t Let Mail Pile Up

Individuals who are leaving to go out of town for a few days should arrange for a friend, neighbor, or a family member to pick up their mail. Thieves look for homes with mail and newspapers stacked up, which alerts them to the fact that the residents are out of town. We suggest that the designated person picking up the mail, do a quick inspection to look for signs of a break in or vulnerable areas overlooked initially.

Don’t Announce Your Departure

We suggest you keep your holiday travel plans on a need-to-know basis. This is especially true for social media posts. Don’t give would-be thieves the heads-up that the residence will be unoccupied for any length of time. Even casual conversations with people in the neighborhood should be limited to trusted individuals only.

Keep Your Lights On

Families going out of town should invest in an automatic timer for lights. When it gets dark certain lights turn on automatically and then shut off when it is light outside. Burglars are less likely to attempt a break-in at a home that has its lights on.

Don’t Leave Gifts Visible From Outside

If gifts are visible from outside near a door or window, burglars are much more likely to break in. Keep gifts out of plain view in order to help prevent a potential break in either while sleeping or out of town. We suggest you consider keeping them somewhere completely out of view if someone looks inside through a window or other opening.

These tips are designed to help protect a residence from potential break-ins during the holiday season, but are smart practices to incorporate year round. Using these strategies may help prevent someone from becoming another statistic this holiday season.