It is not just cars filled with Christmas gifts and other items that thieves target at this time of year. They also try to steal the joy from homeowners, knowing that houses are filled with gifts, in addition to other valuables, during the holiday season.
“Make sure your doors are locked, even when you’re home,” says Cpl. Mike Rail, media relations officer for the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment. This is especially important if you are outside or at the back of the house and cannot monitor who is going in and out, but he says it’s a good practice even if you are in the house.
“Keep the outside of the house well-lit,” he adds. If you do not have a security light that is triggered by movement, turn your outside lights on at night when you turn off the Christmas lights.
Reduce temptation by making sure your tree, and the presents underneath it, is not visible from outside, especially if it is on the ground floor. Resist the urge to post to social media about the gifts you are getting or have got, and once everything has been unwrapped dispose of the packaging right away, so potential thieves cannot tell precisely what Santa Claus left. If you receive big ticket items, take pictures and record any serial numbers.
Do not run external Christmas lights to an indoor plug through a window or door. The little wedge of space left by the cord is all someone needs to pry their way in. And do not leave a note on your door saying no one is in if you have to go out but are expecting a parcel to be delivered; call the company and arrange another delivery address.
If you are planning on being away over the holiday season, do not post the dates of your absence on social media, and ask a neighbour to check on your house periodically, and remove any items such as newspapers that might pile up outside the front door and signal that you aren’t home.
It’s also a good idea to ask someone to shovel your driveway and clear the snow off any vehicles parked in your driveway if there is a snowfall; an unshovelled drive is a good indication there is no one in.
And Rail reminds people to take their garage door openers out of their cars if the car is parked outside. If you are not using your automatic garage door for some reason, consider disconnecting it until you need to use it again, so no one can gain access to your garage and house.
“Most of these thefts are crimes of opportunity,” says Rail. “So take the opportunity away.”