Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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November 25, 2012

Ways to avoid becoming the target of a Christmas thief

Police chief offers several seasonal crime prevention tips

By CHRIS AGEE

‘Tis the season to shop, buy and – for some – steal.

In an effort to reduce property crime in the weeks leading up to Christmas, Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan released a list of home security suggestions for locals to remember.

Sullivan explained the shopping season gives thieves an opportunity to target homes containing recently purchased gifts.

The first step in protecting one’s property is deterrence, he explained, suggesting residents install motion-activated outdoor lighting to make the home a conspicuous target.

When decorating with Christmas lights, Sullivan said individuals should secure the premises, noting criminals often look for partially open windows through which extension cords might pass. He encouraged the use of solar- or battery-powered lights if outdoor electrical outlets are unavailable.

Sullivan said criminals often use citizens’ trash as an indicator of possible valuables inside. For this reason, he said any discarded boxes for expensive items should not be visible and any trash not recycled should be placed on the curb shortly before collection. Additionally, he stressed the importance of shredding all receipts and personal paperwork before discarding them.

Since a large percentage of burglars enter a residence through windows and unlocked doors, Sullivan said citizens should check for weak spots in all possible entry points and suggested installing deadbolt locks and new window hinges for added security.

He said garages and sheds are also commonly targeted by thieves and said both should be securely locked.

To ensure the sight of valuables does not entice a would-be thief, he encouraged locals to keep windows covered at night with curtains, drapes or blinds.

When leaving home, Sullivan said several tips can help create the illusion of occupancy and decrease the likelihood of a break-in.

He said anyone away from home for an extended period of time should postpone newspaper delivery. Other tips include arranging for a neighbor to park in the driveway, using light timers and refraining from leaving outgoing messages indicating the home will be vacant.

Burglars often check various places around a home for a spare key, Sullivan said, explaining a safer option for residents is leaving the extra key to a family member or trusted neighbor. Finally, he said, anyone with a residential alarm system should make sure it is set and in proper working order.

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