According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season lasts the full months of Nov. and Dec. for a total of about 55 days. During this time frame, many families will be traveling and the home will be left vacant, which is no wonder that the FBI reports that nearly 400,000 burglaries take place in the United States during these holiday months.

Most thieves target houses during the day when they are empty, but during the holiday season, this window may be larger since families are away from the home for longer periods of time. With the amount of presents and merchandise floating around during the holiday season, it’s important to make sure your home is protected from a potential burglar. Here’s what you need to know:

No Public Displays of Affluence

Don’t publicly display what you have, or what you will have (packages that you receive.) This means leaving blinds closed so Christmas trees and presents can’t be seen, and not sharing pictures of new items or trees and gifts on social media. Through social media, savvy computer users can find location data via many social apps.

After opening your Christmas gifts, turn the packages inside out so burglars don’t know what you have received. Many of them will explore dumpsters to get a look at Christmas gifts.

Make the Home Appear “Lived-In” 

The best way to ensure that the home is protected is to make the home appear as “lived-in” as possible if you’re out on vacation. Make it look like someone is at the house.

This includes leaving a car parked in the driveway, installing timed lights that will come on periodically to give the impression of activity, and a clean exterior that is well kept with no belongings lingering on the property.

Get Help From Neighbors

Your neighbors are a valuable resource for protecting the home. They can serve as your eyes and ears if you aren’t available. Build a relationship with them so you can use them as a resource when needed.

If you are away, ask them to shovel snow (compensate them of course), and pick-up packages and mail that is left on the front porch. They can help your effort to make the home look as “lived-in” as possible.

Avoid Door-to-Door Solicitors

Don’t give away personal information, money, donations, or anything else to door-to-door solicitors.

These strangers could be taking a peak to see what’s inside the home. (How we were introduced to the burglars in Home Alone.)

Install a Home Security System

The most sure-fire way to avoid theft during the holiday season is to install a home security system. Once the home security system is installed, promote signs that your house is secured.

Install motion sensor lights that will detect if anyone comes near the home, and have lights that will keep the exterior and certain parts of the interior lit. You can do this by placing lights on a timer. This will make burglars question if anyone is home or not. Always arm your security system before you leave the home.

Don’t make yourself an easy target

Cover simple things, like not leaving garage doors open, or windows and doors unlocked or open. Don’t hide your spare keys in obvious places that a burglar would look, like underneath a welcome mat. Sometimes it’s better to simply give these sorts of devices to neighbors or friends in the city.

Have a well-lit exterior

Make sure the home is well-lit, this especially important during the winter months when the nights are longer and the days are shorter

Clean up the entry points of the home and make sure that shrubbery isn’t present that could provide covering and hiding for a burglar

How to Avoid Package Theft

Some thieves follow delivery trucks, a method known as “front porch shopping” and why some people have coined these perpetrators, “porch pirates.” How to avoid porch theft:

  • Don’t leave boxes of gifts near dumpsters or outside of the home.
  • Request to sign for all packages.
  • Ask delivery services to leave packages at a different part of the home or closed off porch.
  • Have packages delivered to the office instead of your home, and stay on top of the tracking number to see when your package will arrive.
  • Install a doorbell camera and have a camera aimed at the front door.
  • Never leave a present or valuable visible in the home or a vehicle.
  • Set delivery times so that you’ll be home when packages arrive.
  • If a neighbor can’t pick up packages for you, then you can reach out to UPS and Postal Service to ask for packages and shipments to your house to be halted during the time that you are gone.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you employ to keep your home safe? Let us know on social media @ProtectAmerica!