It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but statistics show that it’s also one of the most common times of year for break-ins. And did you know that could be setting yourself up as a victim and not even realizing it?
That was the case for one viewer, Carly, who had no idea that something as simple as her Christmas tree and packages in her car turned her into a target.
That's why we turned to former Secret Service agent Evy Poumpouras to share her tips for keeping your home—and yourself—safe during the holiday season.
1. AVOID STOLEN PACKAGES
Stolen packages are more than just a nuisance: Unattended packages can also tip off potential burglars that you’re not home. Poumpouras explains that most burglaries take place between 10 am and 2 pm, when people are at work, school or simply out running errands.
Avoid leaving packages sitting on your doorstep by signing up for delivery alerts and arranging for a neighbor to grab your boxes before a thief has a chance! (Additionally, you can also arrange delivery to your office, or schedule it for a later time when you’ll be home.)
2. MOVE YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE OUT OF THE WINDOW
We know—a twinkling Christmas tree in the window gets us in the holiday spirit too, but nothing kills holiday cheer like losing out on presents that you’ve scrimped, saved and shopped for! Leaving your tree in the window with presents underneath is just inviting trouble.
Have to have your tree in the window? Poumpouras recommends applying a plastic film to your windows that will prevent the glass from shattering—and possibly deter a would-be thief.
3. DON’T LEAVE THINGS IN YOUR CAR
We’re all guilty of this one. You’re unloading heavy packages and bags and you leave a few, planning to come back for them later. This is a huge no-no, says Poumpouras.
"People look for opportunity. If they see stuff in the car, that’s going to tempt them," she says. Poumpouras recommends keeping your car as barren as you can.
4. CHECK YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS
If you have Christmas decorations outside, you might have electrical wires running through a partially-opened window. These cracked windows are a huge security risk, according to Poumpouras, making it easy for a burglar to enter your home with very little effort.
If you must keep the window open, you can purchase small metal stoppers that limit how much the window can open. There are a must-have on the back and side windows, which Poumpouras says are the most vulnerable in any home.
Also, check your deadbolt! In an older home, many deadbolts are short and can be easily shimmied open with a knife or a credit card. A good deadbolt should be at least an inch or longer to keep unwanted visitors out.