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Law enforcement reminds residents to be aware this holiday season

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Published: Dec. 21, 2017 at 5:36 PM EST
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By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News

December 21, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration, but they can also be a peak time for crime.

To prevent property crimes during the holiday season, law enforcement is reminding residents to be vigilant.

That starts before the gifts even get home.

"Extra awareness while you're on the streets (and) while you're shopping," said Lt. Grady Jordan with the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

"There are a lot more shoppers out with the holidays and typically people will make larger purchases. It leads itself to a ripe environment for thieves to break into cars that are unlocked. When they see these items in the cars, even when they are locked, they can break into the window to get those expensive items... When you're out and about we want you to hide those items," he said.

That means keeping bags in the trunk and locking car doors while shopping.

Back at home, residents should keep their homes well lit so neighbors can see suspicious people that may be lurking around. They can also invest in a home security system. Residents are also advised to keep cardboard boxes from Christmas gifts off of the curb.

"One of the easiest things to do, is don't advertise what you've got in your house for Christmas. Don't put those TV boxes out on the road, those big electronic boxes. People that are out scouting, those thieves that are out scouting the neighborhoods to see what is in those homes, we don't want you to advertise that," said Jordan.

That means for residents living in the county, waiting until it's trash pickup day to put out the boxes.

For residents living within the city limits, the City of Tallahassee is placing special recycling receptacles throughout the city for those cardboard boxes.

"The idea is you don't really want to put boxes showing you've got a big screen TV or computer, new game system, any of that out at the curb where people are potentially casing a neighborhood, might seem them and say, 'Okay, they're out of town traveling for Christmas, here's a good target,'" said Paul Hurst, Recycle Coordinator for the City of Tallahassee.

Those bins will be placed at John Messer Sports Complex, Tom Brown Park and San Luis Mission Park from December 26 through the 29. Residents should break down boxes before placing them in.

Some residents are already taking precautions of their own.

"Where you place your Christmas tree, if it's in front of windows, I move my packages to another room," said Jennifer Hewett. She said that simple move can help keep thieves from seeing what gifts you've received, making it less likely they'll break in. She also said she never goes out shopping alone.

For Conor Hughes, getting to know your neighbors can be a big help in assuring your holiday packages don't get left outside, becoming a target for thieves.

"Around the holidays it's good to have that comfort of knowing that if something comes, it can be taken inside," he said. "You can tell your neighbors, especially if you live in an apartment complex, let them know, ask them to bring it in."