Heading out of town for the holidays? Here's how to ward off thieves

The holidays are just around the corner. And you're planning to leave town, there are steps you can take to ward off thieves.

BOISE - We see it all around us: holiday season is here, and that means many of you are planning on leaving town over the next month or so.

Law enforcement is reminding you there are steps you can take to thwart thieves while you're away from home during the holidays.

One tip: if you're planning to leave town, make it look like you're home. Officers say don't leave anything visible in your front yard and ask someone you trust to keep an eye on your house and bring in any packages or mail.

"They're looking for an easy target," Garden City Police Sgt. John Goodman said.

'Tis the season for opportunistic crimes.

"Things being stolen from the porch or the patio area is a common thing," Nampa Police Sgt. Brian Jones said.

Thieves may be able to tell when you're not home.

"If the house looks vacant they might be more inclined to check the house and see if someone is in there by knocking on the door and maybe burglarizing it," Sgt. Jones added.

The Ada County Sheriff's Office posted in NextDoor earlier this week reminding people there are preventative measures they can take. Other local law enforcement agencies are echoing that same guidance.

"Making sure all the doors are locked, the windows are locked, and then making it look like someone's home versus on vacation: house lights on timers, keeping lights on. If you have a timer for a TV or something so there's noise inside the house, just so it gives that appearance that someone is home," Jones said.

If you're on vacation, set electronics on timers to make your house appear occupied and program them to turn on when you would typically be home. And consider installing motion detectors on outdoor lights.

Officers advise having your newspapers and mail delayed while you're out of town, having a trusted neighbor, family member or friend bring in any packages left on your front step, move your trashcans in and if it's snowing, shovel your driveway.

You can also ask friends or neighbors to park their car in your driveway every now and then, and if your blinds or curtains are normally open, leave them open or make arrangements with a neighbor to set up an open/close schedule.

It sounds obvious, but we live in such a safe community and we may forget to lock up.

"Before you leave double, triple check your doors, your windows, your garage doors. Ensure they're locked," Sgt. Goodman said.

Local law enforcement officers KTVB spoke with say car burglaries rise this time of year.

With Black Friday and holiday shopping trips right around the corner, officials suggest you take valuables out or don't leave them out in the open.

"Making sure you're not leaving valuables in the cars, locking the doors. It's a crime of opportunity usually so when they see those valuable items in the cars they might be more likely to take it," Sgt. Jones said.

RELATED: Police investigating car break-ins at Meridian dog park

Police are asking neighbors to report anything suspicious - unusual activity or an unknown person or car.

"We don't know what's normal for that house so if you have neighbors that live nearby that can report if there's any suspicious vehicles or people wandering about that they don't recognize," Sgt. Jones said. "Anything they can do to let us know something is out of the ordinary that we might not notice if we're not familiar with the area."

Another tip from officials: don't post on social media about your vacation plans if you are going out of town and no one will be at your house. Posts can spread far and wide and might reach people tempted to take advantage.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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