Nothing screams Rob My House! like empty computer, Xbox and TV boxes piled front your apartment building or house for trash collection. It’s particularly risky if you live in a single-family row house/building — with only three or four units in the building, a would-be burglar practically knows where to go. Throw in a dark apartment with less than optimum home security and it’s Christmas-time for a burglar.
So, it’s the week after Christmas and you’ve gone back to work or you’ve left town for a few days until after the New Year. What are some easy, common-sense things to remember when it comes to burglary-prevention?
The following tips are from the DC Metropolitan Police Department.
Before leaving town for the holidays (or any holiday or vacation), make sure a trusted neighbor or friend will be able to check on your property. Secure doors and windows at all times and make sure alarm systems are set. You may want to consider changing the emergency phone number with your local alarm company from your home phone to your cell phone number for faster response time in the event the police is needed.
Make the home appear “lived-in” or occupied while you are away. This means, leaving certain lights on, making sure newspapers and mail are not piling up. You can have the Post Office hold your mail until you return. www.usps.gov.
After You’ve Opened the Gifts
Burglars know that many households have new, and oftentimes expensive, items in their homes following the December holidays — especially items such as new computers and peripherals, stereo components, televisions, cameras and other electronic equipment. In too many cases, residents make it easy for burglars to figure out which homes to target by putting boxes that identify their new gifts in plain view with their other garbage.
Avoid becoming an easy target for post-holiday burglars by not leaving boxes for new electronics and other items in the alley or other garbage pick-up locations for several days at a time. Instead, break down any boxes you are throwing out, put them in garbage bags and place them inside a trash can. In many cases, especially with computer equipment, you might consider keeping the boxes for safe storage, shipping or moving in the future.
Think about keeping broken-down boxes inside — in a garage, for example — until the evening before your regular garbage pick-up. Some burglars actually look inside garbage cans for evidence of holiday gifts. And, of course, if you see someone suspicious casing your alley, call the Metropolitan Police Department’s non-emergency number, 311. If you see a burglary in progress, call 911.
Take a Holiday Inventory
The holidays are a good time to update-or create-your home inventory. Take photos or make videos of items, and list descriptions and serial numbers. If your home is burglarized, having a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier to file.
Make sure things like TVs, VCRs, stereo equipment, cameras, camcorders, sports equipment, jewelry, silver, computers, home office equipment, and power tools are on the list. Remember to check it twice!