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Ho Ho, No! Preventing holiday theft from happening to you

One in four Americans have been the victim of burglary, robbery, mugging or fraud during the holidays.

Last year, $230 billion was spent by holiday shoppers in the U.S. On average, each of us spends about $850 on gifts. So, there should be no surprise that home burglaries spike this time of year as well.

A survey done by Experian shows that one in four respondents have been a victim of a burglary, robbery, mugging or fraud during the holidays. Here are details on how to stay safe this season.

With a burglary happening in the U.S. every 22 seconds, one easy way to stay safe -- keep gifts out of the view of windows. Data suggests that most burglaries are a crime of opportunity. Usually, the thief lives less than 2 miles away, and most burglars focus on easy targets.

Also, a survey of criminals said they would not break into a home if a car was sitting in the driveway.

Lighting is also key. Set your lights to turn on and off at different times each night to give the appearance someone is home. And wondering if you should leave your lights on at night? Don’t. In fact, when lights are left on 24/7 it’s a clear sign you are probably on vacation.

If you get a package delivered, break down the boxes. Large boxes from popular brands can clue thieves into what’s inside your home.

Also, don’t use your car as a hiding place for gifts.

“If you have multiple packages that also kind of raises a red flag,” Explains Senior Officer Michelle Montalvo.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that an auto theft occurs every 7.2 minutes.

And take note, according to FBI data, most break-ins occur during the day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. because it is when people are least likely to be home.