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Chiefs offer holiday security tips

Not much can ruin your holidays more quickly than coming home to find your house broken into, your valuables stolen.

So, as we head into the holidays, the Franklin County Chiefs of Police Association offers up a few security tips.

Keep valuables in a safe place. The master bedroom is often the first place thieves look for valuables.

Keep a record of your valuables. Write down the serial numbers of your appliances and home electronics, and jot down descriptions of jewelry and other expensive items.

If you’re concerned about the locks on your doors and windows, a locksmith can do a security check of your home, and recommend better locks.

Gifts left under the Christmas tree or in view of windows for too long can be an open invite for would-be burglars.

If you’re heading out on a holiday vacation, let a trusted neighbor know when you’ll leave and return, and give them your contact information. While you’re at it, ask your neighbor to collect your mail or newspapers. A mailbox bulging with a week’s worth of mail is a sure sign that nobody’s been home for a while.

Also, make your home look lived-in while you’re away. The chiefs suggest buying a timer to turn lights on and off periodically. Leaving a radio on within earshot of the door can make it seem like someone’s home, too. You may also want to enlist someone in your neighborhood to shovel your driveway, walkways, and sidewalk if it snows.

Beware of door-to-door solicitors. Though they may be with a legitimate business or charity, they may also be casing your neighborhood for a future break-in. Ask to see identification and a solicitor’s permit, and notify police if they seem suspicious.

But it doesn’t end at home. The chiefs urge people to use care when out shopping or celebrating as well.

While shopping, park in a well-lit area, as close to the store’s entrance as possible. Always leave your doors locked, but have your keys in hand when you leave the store. And, if you’re out shopping alone, try to walk to and from your car with other shoppers.

Cash and credit cards should be kept separate, and displayed as little as possible. Shoulder bags are considered harder targets than hand-held purses. And, always keep an eye on your purse or wallet, they could be easily grabbed if left unattended.

Once you’re back at your car, purchases in hand, the chiefs suggest locking them in the trunk. If you must leave valuable items in the passenger compartment, cover them up to hide them from prying eyes.

Whether you’re going to an office party or a gathering at the in-laws, give yourself plenty of time for travel. New England weather is known to change quickly, and you could get stuck in a storm. And, as always, wear your seat belt, and don’t drink and drive.

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