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Fifteen anti-burglary tips for the holiday season by Jillian CariolaPublished: December 11, 2014Updated: December 18, 2014

You don’t have to pull a Kevin McAllister to keep your home protected from merry intruders. Follow these tips for a safe and secure Christmas.

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“Home Alone” is one of the most popular Christmas movies ever made. Yes, it teaches viewers about the importance of family, but what really sticks with you are the scenes where the two thieves – the Wet Bandits – try to break in and enter the McAllister home while navigating the elaborate booby traps set up by eight-year-old Kevin, who’s been left home alone.

As funny as it was to see those guys get beat up by a precocious little kid, the truth behind it is that a lot of break-ins do happen during the holidays. Fortunately, there are a lot of simple but effective ways to thwart these pesky robbers. Don’t hang that blowtorch above the door just yet; try these suggestions on for size first. (Don’t forget to check our first list of home security tips for more help on keeping your home protected.)

1. Installing deadbolts on all your doors would be pretty useless unless you actually put them in action. Make sure they’re always locked whenever everyone leaves the house, even if it’s just for a party next door.

2. Check all the windows to make sure they’re locked too. Even the small one in the bathroom or up the attic can be inviting to a robber.

3. Closely inspect your doors and windows, especially the hinges. If any of them are really old and can be removed with just a bit of force, repair or replace them.

4. When leaving the house at night, switch on a couple of lights and even the radio to trick thieves into thinking someone’s actually home.

5. Did you recently get a bunch of high-quality and expensive stuff like a TV or a laptop as gifts? Be careful about how you dispose of the packaging. Destroy the boxes and put them in garbage bags so people outside won’t know about your new toys.

6. Most burglars know about common hiding places of spare keys, like the ledge above the front door or the potted plant on the porch. It would be best to leave them with a trusted friend or neighbor.

7. If your front door’s the kind with glass windows on either side, don’t affix key hooks on the wall by the door. It would be easy enough for anyone to break the glass and snatch your keys.

8. Install a peephole on your front door so you can have a look at your visitor without having to open the door first.

9. If you have an answering machine, avoid recording messages like “We’ll be out of town for the next five days”. Anyone spying from outside can listen in and hear when they can schedule their illegal shopping.

10. Turn down the volume of your phone. This way, no one hears it ring on and on and tips off passersby that your home is empty.

11. If you have a mailbox, make sure your last name’s not on it. A burglar can simply find you on the Yellow Pages, get your number, and call to see if anyone’s home.

12. If you have string lights outside, it would be best to plug it into an outdoor socket. Letting the cord run into the house through a slightly open window can tip off would-be burglars to a potential way in.

13. Leaving ladders and tools outside the house is like helping an intruder beak in. Keep these locked away at all times.

14. Overgrown hedges and trees are the perfect hiding place for thieves. Trim your overgrown shrubs and cut down tree branches that are low enough for a person to climb on to get to the second floor windows.

15. It would be better to actually have a home security system, but if your budget won’t allow you to get one yet, buy one of those “protected by alarm” signages and put it somewhere easily seen. If you don’t have a dog, get a “guard dog” sign too. Who’s to say you don’t actually have these in your property?

Remember, the safer your home and family are, the happier your holiday will be. Merry Christmas!

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