Tips to avoid becoming a victim of theft this holiday season

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As the popular Yuletide tune refrain repeats, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Well, not if you’re the unlucky victim of burglary or theft, something that might be more likely during the holidays when residents are often away for extended periods of time or carrying more cash than usual.

Most people know the basics: Keep doors and windows locked and don’t let newspapers accumulate in the driveway, but law enforcement experts say there are many other ways to avoid becoming a crime statistic. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, burglaries occur once every 15 seconds in the U.S.

Det. Seth Tyler of the Chandler police department emphasized keeping garage doors closed and double checking that the house is secured before turning in for the night.

“A very high percentage of vehicle and residential burglaries in Chandler are no-force, which means something was unlocked or left open,” Tyler said.
The Chandler and Tempe police departments provided Wrangler News with more tips on how residents in both communities can thwart thieves. Below are a few of their more notable words to the wise:

At home

Don’t display gifts or valuable items thru front windows. It’s easy to do especially if there is a Christmas tree nearby but know that burglars will also be on the lookout for those items.

Look at who’s around your neighborhood; ask yourself if those cars belong in the neighborhood.  Be on the lookout for any suspicious person as well as vehicles.  Take the plate information and call police.  Many times, vehicles may be casing a neighborhood to burglarize later.

Have your front/porch lights on a timer.

Request a vacation extra patrol with your police department. Most departments have a way to advise when you’re going on vacation and that will let the officer working that area know that no one is to be home during certain times.

If you are leaving for a short period time, consider leaving a light on or a radio on to gives the impression that someone is home.

Install outdoor camera system and if possible link it to your smart phone.

Don’t run exterior Christmas light extension cords through windows and doors if it causes them to not be secured.

Do not hide spare keys outside your home; instead, give a spare key to a trusted neighbor.

Shopping

Carry your valuables wisely. Do not keep cash in your wallet. Instead, keep it in an inside pocket and only carry the credit cards you’ll need.

Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. If you must leave packages in your car, put them in the trunk. Keep receipts with you.

Carry a cell phone with you. If someone makes you suspicious or uncomfortable, notify security or call the police.

Whenever possible, park and walk in well-lit areas. Be aware of your surroundings, especially the people around you.

Carry your purse close to you, with the opening or flap towards your body. Never leave a purse in a shopping cart.

While in shopping center parking lots, be aware of who is around you. Make a note of where you park. Be sure to have your keys in your hand prior to heading to your car.

Electronics

When electronic gifts are received, make sure you record their serial numbers and keep that list in a safe location. Serial numbers help law enforcement keep track of stolen items and also aid in the recovery process.

After Christmas, don’t throw out all your empty gift boxes. That advertises to burglars all the goodies you received, like that new flat-screen television. Break down boxes and take them out only when trash will be coming by.

Finally, consider organizing a Neighborhood Watch program.

Information: chandlerpd.com or tempe.gov/city-hall/police

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