JACKOSNVILLE, Fla. – Most people gather with friends and families to celebrate the holidays, however authorities want to make sure the public is aware that thieves don’t take holidays.
According to several safety tips handed out by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, thieves count on unsuspecting people to drop their guard, giving bad guys the chance to steal your Christmas spirit.
The Florida Sheriff’s Association reports the amount of people leaving their home during the holiday is the highest it's been since 2007. AAA estimates more than 46 million Americans will leave their homes unattended during this holiday season leaving thieves with plenty of choices to choose from.
Nearly 400,000 homes are burglarized between the months of November and December nationwide according to the FBI.
News4Jax Crime Analyst Gil Smith had some tips for people going out of town over the holidays:
1. Lock all doors and windows,
2. If you have Christmas lights or regular lights be sure to put them on a timer and if you can, put your radio or television on a timer as well.
3. Stop mail and newspaper delivery
4. Install surveillance equipment
5. Always set your alarm
Smith also recommends that parents be mindful of cleaning their chimneys not just for Santa Claus, but for a safer and healthier Christmas.
“Think about it, Santa is going up and down so many chimney all around the world,” Smith said. “He doesn’t carry a change of clothing because he doesn’t have enough room on his sleigh. So if he’s going up and down dirty chimneys by the time he gets back to the North Pole he’s going to be filthy.”