Obviously, you want to protect your home against burglary year-round. But thieves know your home will likely be filled with brand-new gifts, cash and other expensive items during the holidays. Extra awareness and security measures are needed.

Protect yourself and your belongings (and maybe even save on your insurance premiums) by practicing these simple safety precautions.

When you’re home during the day or evening

  • Lock all doors and windows whenever you leave the house, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Turn on your lights and the radio or television.
  • Keep your front door clear of package deliveries. Online shopping is popular this time of year, so don’t give porch pirates the opportunity to snatch your holiday gifts. If you ship something to your house, set up email or text alerts to confirm when packages arrive. Also, consider asking your mail carrier to deliver packages to your back door.
  • Keep your curtains closed so that would-be thieves can’t see inside your house. Similarly, don’t put expensive gifts near windows, which could invite a smash-and-grab theft.
  • Don’t leave spare keys hidden outside during the holidays. Instead, give them to a trusted neighbor.
  • Put away ladders and tools that could be used to break into your home.

When you’re home

  • Keep your doors and windows locked (including on upper floors), even when you’re home.
  • Be wary of strangers at your door. Criminals sometimes pose as charity workers or couriers delivering packages.
  • If you have a garage, pull your car inside and close the door before you unload all those gifts you purchased. Burglars have been known to watch shoppers leave malls, follow them home and grab packages from their unlocked cars as they’re carrying items inside. If you don’t have a garage, keep your car locked while you carry packages inside, even if you’ll be right back for more.
  • After the holiday, be careful about discarding packaging from expensive gifts. Thieves will know those expensive items are now in your home. Instead, cut up the boxes and turn them plain-side out for disposal or recycling.

When you’re traveling

  • Don’t talk about upcoming travel on social media. Wait until you get home to share details and photos.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your home and park in the driveway from time to time.
  • Have mail and newspapers suspended while you’re away so they don’t pile up outside.
  • Use a timer to turn your lights on in the evening and off during the day, so it looks more like you’re home.

Devices that make your home safer, such as dead-bolt locks, window bars and security systems, may be a smart option. Most insurance companies provide discounts for qualifying security devices.

No matter how cautious you are or how much you try to keep your home safe, if a burglar wants to break into your home, they’ll find a way. This is why insuring your property against theft is important. Be aware you may need to purchase additional coverage to protect special items like expensive jewelry, collectibles or rare antiques.

Having adequate homeowners or renters insurance is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this holiday season. Contact your insurance professional to make sure your policy is adequate and up to date. And remember to ask about discounts for security devices.

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