Expert Roundup: Preventing Holiday Burglaries

What's wrong with this picture? All your Christmas presents are placed in front of a window for everyone -- and every burglar -- to see. Don't entice thieves. Read our suggestions on how to prevent holiday break-ins.

The Holiday Season is the most wonderful time of the year for burglars who hit homes scooping up presents under your tree and in your holiday stockings. So, we picked the brains of a roundup of law enforcers and crime prevention experts for tips on how to discourage holiday break-ins.
Here’s how they answered:

What’s the best way to decrease holiday burglaries?

Ed O’Carroll:

Captain in the Fairfax County Police Department and former patrolman and crime prevention officer.
“Burglars know people are going shopping and leaving expensive gifts at the house or under the tree. Be extra cautious. Use all your motion-detection lights and tricks that make thieves think you’re at home. And after the holidays, break up boxes before you put them in the trash, so the burglar driving through the neighborhood can’t see what you have.”

James R. Holmes:

Forty-year police veteran and spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.
“In Arizona, we have great weather and we often entertain during the holidays. Sometimes we forget to lock up after having guests,” and that’s an invitation for burglars.”

Jeanne MacKenzie:

Veteran detective and public information officer for the Tulsa Police Department.
“During the holidays we see an increase in people taking packages off front porches. When you’re expecting a delivery, ask family, friends and neighbors to pick up your packages. Also, people leave their Christmas trees in the front windows with the curtains open with all the packages underneath. I even open the front windows so everyone can see how hard I worked on my tree. But it’s an invitation to people who are looking to break into a house. Move the tree somewhere it can’t be seen from the street. Or, if it’s in the window, close your curtains. It stinks that we have to change things because of criminals.”

Jeffrey Zwirn:

Security and protection consultant and author of “The Alarm Science Manual.”
“People are storing gifts – not only the things you’ve been given, but the things you’re giving others. Perpetrators know they’re going to have a bigger return on their risk during the holidays.”

Has your Christmas ever been wrecked by a holiday break-in? If it’s not too painful, tell us about it. Also, don’t miss the answers to this roundup question: What’s the top way a burglar breaks into a home? And, you still have a chance to read the answer to last week’s question: What’s the first thing a homeowner should do after he discovers a burglary?

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