This year’s holiday season promises to be full of shopping, gift-giving, decorating and celebrating with friends and family. Unfortunately, it’s an equally busy time of year for home burglars.

Nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States in November and December each year, according to the FBI. The National Crime Prevention Council recommends homeowners take extra precautions to protect their homes at this time of year.

“During the holidays, homes are often filled with expensive gifts, the good silver is out and people are in a festive mood — they aren’t thinking about home security the way they should,” said John Heppner, president and CEO of Fortune Brands Storage and Security including Master Lock Company LLC.


Follow these tips and enjoy a safer and happier holiday season:

• First and foremost, lock up! Whether it’s a short trip to the grocery store or a longer haul to finish some holiday shopping, make sure your doors and windows are securely locked. Never leave boxes from expensive gifts laying on the curb for trash pickup. Consider crushing them and placing them in a large, black garbage bag.

• Remember that nothing is more effective at deterring a burglar than the impression that the home is occupied. Make it look like it is by installing timers on your lights.

• Keep your garage door closed at all times. Keep the door from your garage into your home locked as well.


• Be sure that your trees and shrubs don’t hide windows and doors. Blocked entrances can make it easier for burglars to get into your home unnoticed.

• Leave spare keys only with trusted family members or neighbors you are close to. Do not hide them outside. Burglars are smart enough to look around and know the common places people hide keys.

• Be certain that tools, ladders and other objects that could be used to break into your home are securely locked up inside the house. If you will be away for a lengthy period, entertain the idea of a house sitter.

• You may also want to consider a home security system. Check online or look in your phone book to find companies specializing in home security.


• Most experts agree that your neighbors are your best defense. Get to know them and chances are they will be more likely to watch for suspicious activity around your home while you’re away.

Karen Nakamura is executive vice president/CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii.