Knoxville (WVLT) -- There's no place like your home during the holidays, a fact that some criminals would agree with.
Every year at this time, thieves target homes, but your home doesn't have to be one of them.
Police say many of the tips to keep criminals from ruining your perfect holiday are common sense.
The only problem is with all the distractions at this time of the year, they may be overlooked.
Imagine you are a criminal, if you see cardboard boxes in the garbage and a Christmas present beneath a tree, it could mean your house is ripe for theft.
"It's hard to tell folks to think like a thief,” said Capt. David Rausch from the Knoxville Police Department. “If you look at it in that manner and see what somebody who would be trying to take something would see, then it is an easy target and you want to try to harden that target."
Hardening the target is simple, but you have to take the time to do it.
Start with locking doors and windows, even if you don't leave your home for long periods of time.
Don't leave gifts in a place that's visible from a window and avoid leaving cardboard from expensive gifts in the garbage as thieves may go through your trash.
Also, look for suspicious people in the neighborhood and if you go away for the holidays, use timers for lights.
Finally, don't forget to stop mail delivery or at least have someone pick up your mail everyday.
"It's proven in crime prevention, you know, throughout the country that if you take some basic steps to make your place look secure, it's going to be secure," said Capt. Rausch.
Don't think for a minute that thieves only strike at night.
According to police, most home burglaries occur in broad daylight and the holidays are no exception.
Police say it also helps when we all look out for each other.
If you see someone suspicious around someone else's home, don't hesitate to report it.
After all, it may be the best gift you'll ever give your neighbors.
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