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Protect your home from holiday-season break-ins

NewsUSA Staff
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/11/11/11/05/1jjOtC.Em.138.jpeg|316
    PETER ANDREW BOSCH -
    Home security becomes a focus for many homeowners during the holidays. Take a look at your doors and windows. Consider new ones if they might allow easy access.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2013/11/06/17/27/dkaEE.Em.138.jpeg|316
    John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    Choose a dependable lock as a part of your home security plan.

Ah, yes, the holidays. A time for celebrating with family, ripping into presents and ... getting burglarized?

Apparently so.

Nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the U.S. during November and December each year, according to the FBI. Those are the months when so many of us are either away from home – whether on vacation or getting together with loved ones – or busy accumulating piles of shiny new gifts.

“Burglars are opportunists looking for a score, and the holidays are a perfect time for it,” says Robert Siciliano, a security expert.

What can you do to keep from being one of the 400,000? Here are some ideas:

• The perils of social media: Admit it. You’ve laughed at gang members outed in the news for bragging about their crimes on Facebook and Twitter. Resist the urge to share your travel plans on such sites. It makes it easy for people to track you.

• Lighting: High-wattage exterior lighting, set on timers along with indoor lamps, help neighbors spot suspicious activity at night. Lighting also gives a home a lived-in look. Adding motion sensors, though, has a downside: “They sometimes give the impression that someone is there when he isn’t,” Siciliano says.

• Home Security: Burglars, who’ve been known to case neighborhoods in broad daylight dressed as contractors, actually jiggle doorknobs in search of cheap, breakable locks. So it’s essential to protect your home’s main point of entry, advises Siciliano.

• Garage Door Openers: Unplug them when traveling, and repeat these words: A powerless GDO can’t be hacked with a universal remote.

• Finally, about those “shiny new gifts.”

Yes, the huge box your new plasma TV came in is an eyesore you can’t wait to put out on the curb with the trash. But guess what attracts the attention of crooks on their post-holiday prowls?

“The best thing to do,” says Siciliano, “is cut the box up and put it in a big black trash bag. That way, they don’t know you have a plasma TV.”

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