BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) – The holidays are a time for giving, but it’s also a hard time for many. With thousands of dollars in presents under the tree, unfortunately, some turn to taking from others.
“This is the time of year that everyone goes out, they get presents for loved ones… thousands of dollars of presents within a home. People, thieves know this,” said Lt. Joe Babkiewicz with the Bluffton Police Dept.
“It’s a hard time of year for a lot of folks, so those people may take it upon themselves to take from others,” said Robin Blair with Custom Security in Okatie.
So how can you make sure your presents are still there when you wake up Christmas morning?
The first steps are simple, like remembering to lock your doors.
“Often times, if we go out real quick, we tend to leave our doors unlocked and not think about anything about people coming in or anything like that,” said Babkiewicz.
Avoid tempting thieves by keeping presents away from windows.
“Keep them locked up in a closet or up in the attic,” he added, “This way, there’s nothing for these thieves to look at if they decide to come by and look through your windows.”
If you plan on going out of town, know who to tell and who not to tell.
“You definitely don’t want to put it on social media,” Babkiewicz said, “If you put that down saying ‘I’m going here for the weekend,’ then people know that your house is empty.”
Instead, tell your neighbors.
“There’s a lot of neighborhood block watches that will keep an eye on your house while you’re gone,” he said, “Family relatives, friends, have them stop by. Have them pick up the mail too… because a lot of people will see the mail stocked up in the mailbox and they’ll know somebody’s not at the house at that time.”
Don’t forget packages – track them online and require a signature, even better, check out doorbell cameras.
“That’s been hot this year, where you can actually yourself go monitor the packages that are being delivered when they get dropped off,” Blaire said.
You’ll get a notification on your phone any time someone rings your doorbell and you can pull up the video.
“You can actually sit there and talk to the person even when you’re at work,” Blaire added.
Experts say the best way to keep your home safe is a monitored security system, like ELAN.
“One of the great things that you can do is you can integrate all of your security systems in your cameras,” said Christina Gomez with Play Custom Home Technology in Bluffton.
But if you’re on a holiday budget, stores have options as cheap as $120 dollars that run on your wifi.
“From Amazon we have the Cloud Cam,” said Kevin Holly a smart home specialist at Best Buy, “Two-way audio, 24 hours of free recording and 120° viewing angle. This can be accessed from your smart phone as well.”
There are also cameras with magnetic mounts, and ones that can be put on trees.
An even cheaper option: motion sensor lights.
“You wouldn’t think something as simple as lights could actually protect you and your family during the holiday season, but they certainly can,” said Brooke Miller, a manager at Cregger Company in Bluffton, “A built in motion sensor or a dusk ’til dawn… so when the sun sets, the lights go on and then go off when the sun comes up in the morning.”
These apps also allow you to turn lights on and off from your phone wherever you are.
“If your house is well lit, or it stays lit at nighttime,” Babkiewicz said, “Then that’s a good deterrent away because people want to go to the dark areas where they’re not going to be seen.”
And if you just so happen to be home when the doorbell rings, be smart. Police say it’s okay to open the door to people collecting donations for charities, but always ask for an I.D.
By taking these extra precautions, you can make sure a Grinch doesn’t steal your Christmas.