The holiday season may mean different things to people: time spent with family, holiday vacations, and even presents. To burglars, these characteristics can mean empty homes with vulnerable valuables, and often the opportunity to provide holiday presents to their own families.
The Cedar Lake Department would like to remind people to be on their guard against burglars this holiday season and to take all necessary precautions to safeguard their houses.
· Take the time to trim back any bushes or trees that block visibility through your house. Check all of the entryways into your home (windows and doors) to make sure that they are secured. Secure any sliding glass doors with a lock and a dowel in the door track.
· If your home is equipped with an alarm system, make sure that you and your family are using it. Studies show that alarm systems and visible advertisements (stickers, lawn signs) are some of the best deterrents against burglars. Also, make sure your alarm system is registered with the Town of Cedar Lake and give all of your emergency contact numbers.
· If leaving your home for several hours to visit with friends and family or go shopping, find ways to make your house look occupied. Placing interior and exterior lights on timers or leaving on a radio or T.V. are some quick prevention methods.
· Exterior holiday lights do more than make your house look beautiful: they also light up the areas around windows and doors where burglars may lurk.
· Retain the receipts for all major purchases in a safe place. If possible, record the serial number of the property on the corresponding receipt or on another list for safekeeping. In the event that these items do get stolen, this record will maintain proof of the purchase and aid police in tracking down the stolen item.
· Be cautious about solicitors, especially during this time of year. A stop at your doorway may provide them the chance to scope the inside of your house for valuable items and map the layout for a later return.
· If ordering items to be delivered to the house, schedule them to be delivered at a time when you will be home and able to accept the package. Large packages left on doorsteps are susceptible to thieves passing through the neighborhood.
· Many people love to display a brightly-lit Christmas tree with presents around the skirt. If visible through a window or doorway, this can be tempting for burglars scouting the neighborhood. Reconsider hiding the presents in a secure place and placing them under the tree at the last minute.
· Don't announce your new high-dollar purchases after the holidays. Break down the boxes of TVs, stereos, computers, etc. to fit inside of your trashcan. If possible, stagger the times that these boxes are placed in the trash. You can also take these boxes to the town recycling receptacles located at the Public Works Building (8550 N Lake Shore Drive)
· Don’t advertise any trips away from your home or travel plans on online social networking sites. Broadcasting your absences lets people know that your house is unoccupied and vulnerable. Make sure that your children are doing the same and that they are careful about discussing travel plans with friends.
· In the event that you are traveling for the holidays, consider finding a trusted neighbor to protect your home in your absence. Have all mail and newspapers collected or have your services suspended. Provide a key to that person so that they can make your house look occupied, either by turning on lights, turning on the radio, or moving a car in the driveway.
· Notify your local police department that you will be away for an extended time period and provide the contact information for the neighbor who will be watching your home.
· If leaving a dog at home for the holidays, consider having a trusted neighbor, family member, or friend pet sit at the house instead of using a kennel. Dogs of all sizes (and barks!) can be a deterrent to burglars.