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Wait for the Holidays

Christmas presents by the window may entice crooks to break in.

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Burglars who prefer to plan their heists in advance are particularly attentive to seasons and occasions. Just before Christmas, for example, burglars love to look in, and then break in, large picture windows displaying dozens of presents underneath sparkly trees. On December 25th or 26th, burglars scout curbs, where empty boxes inventory potential loot -- large-screen TVs, expensive game systems, packages from high-end department stores and fishing gear. To take your home out of the running, leave the tree, but move presents from window views. Haul those empties to a public trash receptacle.

Summer vacations get burglars giddy, too. Families who take precautions to make their homes look lived-in should enjoy worry-free vacations.

Other events fraught with dangers from burglary include:

  • Homes for sale -- Lock boxes hung on doors indicate houses are likely empty. With the right tools, burglars can break in quickly. Homeowners preferring to skirt this risk may work with realtors to either forego lock boxes or hang them in discrete locations. During open houses, visitors should not be free to roam, and after the event is over, realtors and homeowners need to check that doors and windows remain secure.
  • Funerals and weddings -- Large family gatherings provide additional opportunities for burglars to know when homes will be unoccupied, usually for hours at a time. Best bet: Ask neighbors to house sit, with their cars parked in the driveway, to ensure it appears someone is home.
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