Beware of what your trash says
Thieves can spot big items by boxes, refuse

CONYERS - After the turkey has been eaten, the toys have been unwrapped and the dust has settled, there is still one final holiday tradition which must be completed - taking out the trash.

For most of us, this act marks the end of the giving and receiving of the holiday season, while for criminals, it marks the beginning of a season of taking.

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, a full trash bin tells a tale of treasure for a thief canvassing homes. Setting out boxes of trash early is like bragging to a thief, providing him or her with a list of the items ripe for the taking in your home, the NCPC said in a press release.

"Criminals drive through neighborhoods looking for evidence of new TVs, computers and other expensive holiday items and then target your house for a break-in," the release states.

But by using a little care and sticking to the following tips, homeowners can help avoid becoming victims:

· Lock your doors and windows, including your garage doors. More than 60 percent of all burglaries take place without forced entry;

· Avoid displaying expensive gifts and other valuables in areas visible from the outside;

· Wait until trash day to set out those television, computer or other expensive gift boxes;

· Use automatic timers to turn on the lights, a radio or a television when you are not home;

· Ask a trusted neighbor to watch your home while you are away and be sure your mail and newspapers are picked up to keep the place looking lived in. You can also stop mail service through your local post office;

· Create an inventory of the valuable items in your home by taking photographs and making a list of serial numbers. An inventory may aid in the recovery of your items and will make insurance claims easier to file; and

· Be alert to suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Report anything that seems unusual or suspicious to the police immediately.

For more information on protecting your home, visit www.ncpc.org.

Colin Stewart can be reached at colin.stewart@rockdalecitizen.com.