Warning! It's the Most Dangerous Time of the Year for Burglaries

xmashouse_w640 Andy Williams didn't sing "It's the Most Dangerous Time of the Year" because that just wouldn't have been Christmas-sy. However, the holidays are one of the most dangerous times of the year, particularly when it comes to burglary. Here are five reasons, provided by our security experts at Protect Your Home, why home burglaries and other thefts increase during the holidays and how you can help keep yourself and your home safe. 1. It gets dark earlier. More hours of darkness give burglars that much more time when it's easier to hide out. That means you need to be particularly cautious when crossing parking lots at night, when arriving home after dark and when going from your car to holiday parties. If you don't have motion-sensor lighting over your driveway and the perimeter of your house, you may want to reconsider. Not only can bright lights suddenly switching on scare off an intruder, they make it easier to see your way to or from your car after dark. 2. People are out of the house more. Between shopping and holiday functions with coworkers, friends and family, people go out more during the holidays, providing burglars more opportunities to find unoccupied homes to break into. Don't let your guard down just because it's a happy time of year. You should double down on your commitment to lock all doors and windows any time you go out, even if you only plan to be gone for a few minutes. 3. People travel for the holidays. The holiday travel season starts before Thanksgiving and doesn't let up until after the new year. While you naturally want to share your great holiday plans with friends and family, you should avoid sharing this information on social networking sites, such as Facebook. You never know who could find out that your house is going to be unoccupied for a period. Resist posting those travel photos until you're back home. 4. There's more great stuff to steal. Have you ever noticed trash collection day the week after Christmas? Curbs are stacked with boxes that once contained new gaming systems, televisions, phones and electronics—all very popular items with burglars. Don't "advertise" the presents people in your household received. Wait until collection day to put boxes by the curb and, ideally, you should break them down and fold them so that the plain side of the cardboard is showing. 5. People are more distracted and friendlier as the holidays approach. Sometimes, good cheer carries over into how we relate to strangers. We may be tempted to help out a person we might not otherwise, or perhaps we're so distracted by the many pre-holiday tasks that we let our guard down. Burglars and other criminals know this and they take advantage. You don't have to turn into Ebenezer Scrooge, but you do have to be aware of your surroundings and you have to practice basic security measures just like at any other time of the year. Here are some reminders: •    When the doorbell rings, don't automatically assume it's a delivery person. Check who it is before opening the door, and make sure other family members do the same. •    Keep your handbag closed and tucked securely under your arm. •    Try to avoid having to cross a parking lot with your arms full of shopping bags. •    As soon as you get in your car, lock your doors, buckle up and go. •    Try to attend holiday events in the company of others. Know your tolerance for alcohol and behave accordingly. •    If you're traveling during the holidays, arrange to have mail collected and use multiple light timers to switch lights on and off at different times. Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to park a car in your driveway while you're gone. •    Don't forget to lock your garage. It's a popular storage place for gifts from "Santa" and burglars know this. Use common sense and, if you have a home security system, be consistent about arming it and you'll have the best chances for a joyous, safe holiday season. We hope this information will provide you with some security precautions to think about this holiday season.