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11.30.18 – Dallas News –

Police and insurance companies say break-ins typically increase in December and January in Texas.

Allstate says Saturday could be a big day for residential burglars. The insurer recently reported that an analysis of 10 years of data showed more claims on Dec. 1 than any other day of the year.

State Farm also says burglaries in the state trend up in December. But the greatest number of claims in 2017 came in January, with 605, the insurance company says.

Dallas police in 2017 also recorded more residential burglaries in January — 634 — than in any other month that year, though there had been 663 in December 2016.

Insurers and police offer six tips to avoid home and car break-ins during the gift-giving season.

1. Assess potential home-entry points

Plano police Officer David Tilley, a spokesman for his department, said homeowners should make sure all their doors and windows are locked properly.

He said homeowners also ought to check the screws in the plates where doors lock. Tilley suggested that if the screws are short,  3- or 4-inch ones should be used as reinforcement to make it tougher to kick in a door.

“It’s cheap and it’s inexpensive and it’s something that any person can do,” Tilley said.

Plano officers offer free home security assessments. Other police departments may offer similar services, Tilley said.

2. Consider a home security system

As security system technology has become more affordable and accessible, State Farm has noted a decrease in residential burglary claims. In 2017, the agency had 6,223 claims nationally, about half as many as the 12,438 in 2011.

Security cameras and loud alarm systems help protect homes, Allstate spokeswoman Katylin Johnson said.

“An alarm system is an excellent deterrent to crime as long as it’s used consistently,” Johnson said in a written statement.

3. Don’t leave signs of a vacant home or new purchases

State Farm spokesman Chris Pilcic recommends getting timers to turn house lights on and off while you’re on vacation or asking a neighbor to house-sit. Before trash day, pick up, cut up or break down boxes from recent purchases.

“The other thing I think is important to stress: It’s a good time as you get new things to create a list of inventory in your home,” Pilcic said.

Include technology as well as valuable jewelry. Pilcic said law enforcement can more easily retrieve stolen belongings if victims provide models, serial numbers and photos.

4. Break up the shopping spree

Tilley said he knows shoppers like to visit multiple stores in one trip, but he said it’s better to take gifts of substantial value straight home instead of stowing them in the car. He said car burglaries in store parking lots tend to increase during the holidays.

5. Keep receipts separate from bags

Tilley said shoppers should get in the habit of saving receipts in their wallets and not the store bags. It’s likely the receipt will have the product’s serial number, which makes the item easier to track down if it’s stolen, he said.

6. Park in well-lighted areas that get a lot of foot traffic

Some may like to park far way to avoid getting car dents, but the more crowded an area is, the lower the likelihood that a thief will try to break a car window. Tilley said it takes only a few seconds for a burglar to smash a window and grab items.

“Sometimes,” he said, “these bad guys are sitting in parking lots. They’re watching people.”