Family Safety Alert: Protect Your Home for the Holidays

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December 22, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The holiday season is busy for stores, and it's also busy for thieves.

The last thing you want is to make your house a target.

It seems everyone is rushing around right now, trying to get everything ready for Christmas.

In that holiday rush, many people forget to take simple steps to protect their homes and the gifts inside.

While many of us are concentrating on what gifts are left to buy, criminals are hard at work watching...and plotting to take it all away.

"Anyone can be a target at anytime," Lt. Tony Walden of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office told News 12.

But we don't have to make it easy for them.

Some simple ways to protect your home can be found on your own front doorstep. If you are leaving for the night, leave a light on so a criminal will think someone is home. And don't leave your Christmas tree with all the presents underneath near your front door or a window.

A tree bright with lights can be easy to spot from far away, and that also lights the way for thieves looking to get in and get right to your goods fast.

Lt. Walden says slowing crooks down is often enough to make them move on.

"Burglars tend to be less aggressive," he said. "They don't want to be seen. They want to get in, get your stuff, and get out without being caught."

He suggests placing security signs in your yard and on your window. If you are headed out of town, don't let your mail or newspapers pile up. Consider leaving a TV or a radio on, and put your house on a house watch with the sheriff's office...because deputies driving by day and night checking your home deters almost any criminal.

"That also gives us an emergency contact should something happen," Lt. Walden said.

Being alert during this time of year not only saves you money, but also precious time to enjoy your holiday season.

The biggest holiday mistake we all make is throwing away the evidence. Leaving boxes on the side of the road after Christmas morning is free advertising for criminals. In a quick drive-by they can tell what high price items you bought...and odds are they aren't put away yet, so once inside they will be easy to find.

To set up a deputy drive-by, all you have to do is call the records department with your local law enforcement. Then, your home will be placed on a watch day and night, with deputies driving by to check on your valuables free of charge.