As the holiday shopping season kicks in to high gear, its a good time to remember how taking some simple precautions can keep you from getting Grinched this Christmas!

When I was in college, the apartment I lived in was robbed, while I was sleeping, on Black Friday. The people who broke in were nice enough to close my bedroom door, while I was napping, and then take all the expensive things my roommates had. (Luckily, everything I owned/still own was cheap and likely duct-taped together, so my belongings were spared, as was I, so I count myself lucky!)

That experience in college stuck with me. And when I bought my own home, and moved in to the neighborhood I live in now, I asked around about crime. Subsequently, I ended up the head of a Neighborhood Watch, which gave me some pretty great access to the police department. And from that access, I learned a lot about what can lead people to rob other people.

During the holidays, when people are buying, buying, buying, its the perfect time for that stuff to become a target! Here are some tips, passed along to me by people in the know (the cops!) that can help keep your stuff safe!

1.) Don't advertise what you've got! So Santa brought you a big screen TV, a new gaming system and a sweet laptop! Do yourself a favor, and don't stick those boxes out on the curb to alert potential perps to your new goodies! The same goes for social media. Probably not a great idea to advertise your holiday haul for the same reasons.(Also, it not great form to do so, either. Nobody likes a braggart!)

2.) If you're out for a day shopping, and you're going to be leaving gifts in the car, cover those suckers! And make sure to lock up your vehicles-which you should be doing anyway-even and especially in your driveway! Locks can sometimes deter wanna-be thieves. They're usually going to go for the low-hanging fruit.

3.) Keep an eye out for your mail! And if you can't be home when the mail comes, have a neighbor keep an eye out for it. Especially those packages! Unattended mail and packages are very much low-hanging fruit!

4.) If you plan to travel this holiday season, keep those plans offline! Just as you probably shouldn't post pictures of your new Iphone or diamond tiara, its probably not a bright idea to let the world know you'll be half way across the country, and away from all of your cool things! And again, this is where knowing and talking to your neighbors, and letting some trusted ones know of your plans, can give you another set of eyes, if there's a problem when you're not around.

And 5.) Consider investing in some motion-sensor lights and camera security systems. Nosy neighbors are great, trust me, I love mine, but if they should miss something, a well-placed camera or two could give the authorities enough to go on, so they can catch the bad guys! And a motion senor by all the entries is a great way no only to keep those spots lit for your safety when you come and go, but also a great way to deter people you don't want coming and going from coming and going in the first place!

A little common sense goes a long way in helping you enjoy the holidays--and keep your stuff, your stuff!


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