Tips to prevent holiday burglaries 

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HAMPTON ROADS, VA. - It's the season for giving but for some people it's the season for taking.

Police say during the holidays, burglaries and package thefts are up.

They've put out the following list of safety tips to make sure you don't fall victim.

• Always keep your doors and windows locked on your home. This includes garage doors and side doors to attached garages.

• Leave outside lights on at night. This keeps the outside of your home well lit, casting shadows when someone approaches.

• Remove or cut back shrubs close to the home to avoid potential hiding places for burglary suspects. A good rule of thumb is to keep shrubs cut below all first floor windows or under 2 ½ feet tall.

• Leave an inside light on a timer when you are away from home, even if it is only for a short period of time.

• Ask a friend or relative to keep a check on your home, picking up mail and packages, if you will be gone for any extended period of time. You can also have your mail stopped temporarily by contacting your local post office.

• Take a few minutes to document serial numbers along with make and model numbers of all firearms and electronics that you may have. Keep this list in a safe place and out of plain sight. If you become a victim of theft, this list will help you provide important information to the police and your insurance company. Documenting these numbers can also assist detectives in locating your stolen valuables more quickly.

• Photograph all your important or expensive belongings, especially jewelry. It is very important to write down a full and complete description of your expensive, unique, custom or rare jewelry. If your jewelry is ever stolen, your pictures can help detectives identify your jewelry when it is recovered.

• Keep receipts of the items you purchase or have purchased. This can help estimate your stolen property’s value if you ever have to file an insurance claim.

• Do not leave large clearly marked boxes on the curb for trash pick-up. Break the boxes down and attempt to conceal what items you recently purchased or received as a gift in the trash.

• Do not leave gifts where they can be seen from the outside of the home. Keep all drapes, curtains, shades and blinds closed.

• Open doors only to people you know. Never allow any unknown person inside your home, even if they claim they need to use a phone or the bathroom. Citizens can become victims of theft when they allow people they don’t know into their home.

• Do not discuss in public what items you purchased or received as gifts. As excited as you are, criminals are just as excited to know what to look for in your home.

The Portsmouth Police Department is also offering to assist citizens with a free home safety survey. To schedule a survey, contact a Crime Prevention Specialist at (757) 393-8092.