Updated: Thursday, 13 Dec 2012, 6:49 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 13 Dec 2012, 3:56 PM EST
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The holidays are a joyful time of the year, but it is also a peak time for criminal activity. Criminals take advantage of the seasonal chaos.
During the Christmas season, parents, grandparents and others are preparing, gathering gifts and wrapping presents.
Some people have a different goal in mind - stealing the items residents may have under the tree, and even in their cars.
It's something Anna is always monitoring.
“When I am shopping, I always try to notice where all my belongings are as I’m walking along. When I’m in the car, I always try to put all my purchases down in the trunk, so they are hidden from view,” said Anna.
The FBI reports that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in November and December alone every year in the U.S.
The Terre Haute Police Department said they've seen the jump, with 104 burglaries so far in the city since November 1. That's up 8% from earlier this year.
“There’s a significant increase normally over the holiday months in comparison with the normal months. Every year, there’s normally a typical increase of crimes, especially car break-ins and burglaries,” said Detective David Garland, Terre Haute Police Department Property Crimes Division.
Detective Garland said there's a good reason for holiday shoppers to be worried. Criminals look for easy targets who may be distracted by the busy season.
“You’ve got an influx of people going to malls, shopping, leaving presents in vehicles. Criminals know that and that’s what they’re looking for. The best way to combat it is to increase people’s knowledge and how to protect their property,” said Detective Garland.
But Anna is prepared.
“Actually, we have a back bedroom, so normally we keep everything back there,” said Anna.
“(So you’re prepared?) Try to be. As much as possible,” said Anna.
Police say to carry small amounts of cash in separate areas. Avoid the holiday rush by shopping early or online.
Park in well-lit areas and as close to the store as possible. Avoid leaving at or near closing time. Make sure you get your credit cards and ID’s returned to you at stores.
Avoid making several trips to your vehicle to store packages. Always keep packages and other items hidden from view because criminals like to window shop.
After opening gifts, break down boxes from expensive items. Don’t leave them out by the trash for pick up. Utilize exterior lighting and motion lights on your home.
Don’t put presents under or around the tree in full view of windows. Write down serial numbers on property.
Don’t advertise that you are going on vacation via social networking sites. Be home or have someone come by to put mailed packages inside your house, and utilize tracking numbers.
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