BSO: Don't give thieves happy holiday

Deputy gives tips on securing your home, gifts

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The holidays are a time for lights and cheer, but deputies said not to let this be a happy holiday for crooks.

Deputy Kari Pallotto, a crime prevention practitioner with the Broward Sheriff's Office, said families with Christmas trees should not put pricey gifts underneath it, especially if it's near a window.

"They're able to see everything you have underneath it, and then you're a target for them wanting to burglarize your home," Pallotto said.

Parents might think keeping presents in the garage is a great way to hide them from the kids, but Pallotto said that can invite curious crooks, too.

"Everybody can see when you open your garage. In case they're casing the neighborhood, they can tell what you have hidden in your garage," she said. "We say keep them in the house, in a closet, underneath a bed, things like that, so nobody can see them."

Pallotto also advised people to break down the boxes after gifts have been removed.

"Break them down, put them in a garbage bag and put them in a receptacle. You don't want them hanging out, showing that you just bought a brand new TV or a computer for your house," she said.

Since it's getting dark much earlier, experts also said that now is a good time to put lights on timers. Burglars don't like it if it looks like someone's home.

Also, keep all doors and windows locked. It seems like common sense, but Pallotto said this time of year, people are more easily distracted than usual.

"If you're coming in and out with gifts, you tend to forget to lock the door behind you," Pallotto said.