AREA -- Most people look forward to this time of year, "Including burglars," said Thayer Police Chief David Bailey.
With many people away, visiting friends, or just out of the house shopping, there are many opportunities for break-ins. Area law enforcement officials agree that this is a vulnerable time for homeowners. "People are busy and distracted. As they race out their door, they are not thinking about what they leave behind," Bailey said.
He offered a few precautions to help prevent homeowners from falling victim to thieves during this time of year.
* Examine the exterior of your house. Make sure all locked doors and windows have a tight fit when closed. Check to see if there is any "wiggle room" that could give a thief enough space to "jimmy" it open. Walk around your whole property to ensure there is nothing that can be used to climb upper floors. Look in your windows to make sure blinds are positioned to screen the interior view, but not closed completely. People may want to move any computers and television sets away from prying eyes. Never leave an "emergency key" hidden outside a door.
* Always leave your home in a secure state, regardless of the amount of time you are expected to be away. A burglar watching a house is capable of taking what he wants in a few carefully planned moments.
* When a person is away from their home, particulary for an extended period, make sure to make it lived-in. Put timers on a few lights at varied times. Put a timer on a talk-radio station and install a dusk/dawn outside motion detector. Ask a neighbor to pick up mail or any circulars that might pile up on the doorstep. Also, people can stop the delivery of newspapers or other mail while they are away.
* In many instances, installing a home alarm system will give protection and a sense of calm.
* Inventory major possessions. An easy way is to place valuables out on tables and videotape the house, room-to-room, of all furniture, paintings and other possessions. Place the list, any photos/videos taken and maybe even valuables in a safe, separate location.
* Tell a trusted neighbor in your neighborhood you are going to be away. Activity or noise that might otherwise seem normal to them would be alarming if they know you are away from home.
"These are just a few simple ideas that might help homeowners during the holiday season protect gifts they have bought or even home possessions," Bailey said.