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The end of Thanksgiving means the start of holiday shopping and an increase in burglaries. Capt. Chris Decker of the Granite Shoals Police Department offered these tips on how homeowners can keep their families, homes, and gifts secure.

1. Online shoppers can choose when deliveries occur and where packages are to be left on the property. If you won’t be home for deliveries, ask a friend to gather the packages or delivery drivers to leave packages in locations that are out of sight. 

Decker noted that the Texas Legislature passed laws to address “porch pirates,” thieves who take packages from people’s driveways and property. He said online cameras are a useful tool for law enforcement to locate — and eventually prosecute — porch pirates.

“They’re fantastic for documenting deliveries and to see if someone took packages,” he said.  

2. If your Christmas tree shines brightly through a front window, you should turn off the lights when you’re not home. In fact, Decker recommends closing the blinds and curtains.

3. Don’t leave presents — especially high-priced items — under the tree.

4. If leaving for an out-of-town trip, call your local law enforcement and ask them to do security checks. 

6. After unwrapping presents, cut up boxes, especially those containing expensive presents, before throwing them in trash bins. Don’t leave TV or computer boxes outside for others to see what you have. 

“Crime can happen anytime,” Decker said. “Utilize your resources. And, if something doesn’t feel right, go with your gut.”