You may have done your Christmas shopping at Kohl's or Best Buy, but criminals prefer getting gift ideas from the streets, according to police.
In what has become annually one of the most re-read commentaries on Patch, former Cockeysville Police Precinct Capt. Marty Lurz has one simple message for anyone who Santa favored this year:
Don't advertise what you got for Christmas when taking out the trash.
In a nutshell, you should discreetly dispose of that 50-inch flatscreen box, rather than just leaving the cardboard at the curb. Speaking of trash collection, click here.
In Capt. Lurz's words:
... If you're a member of this communication tree, be it for either a long time or a very short time, you should be familiar with our efforts to "target-harden" - that is, make it more difficult for either you or your property to become a crime statistic.
You're familiar with our mantra and pleas to take the simple crime prevention steps of locking house doors and windows, locking car doors, etc. At this time of the year, it's more important than ever. Burglars and thieves are opportunists. They look for signs of whether the crime is 'worth their time.' They are quite aware that an unoccupied residence is more prevalent at this time of year because of folks visiting, being out of town, etc. And, if kids know that now is the time for gifts, so do the burglars and thieves.
So, here's another tip - Don't do trash collection day advertising of what you got for Christmas! If you don't break down the cardboard box that the 50-inch LCD flat screen TV came in, you're telling everyone, including potential burglars, that there's a brand new 50-inch flat screen TV inside the house attached to the driveway! Does it happen that way? Oh yes ... it can and it does. Take a moment and break down the box when you leave it out for recycling pick-up. If you already break it down, just make sure the cardboard is "inside-out" when you leave it at the curb.
Once again, my intent is not to make you paranoid to the point where you don't buy anything unless it comes in a plain brown wrapper, but to make you aware of things that we, the police department, learn from burglars who like to talk about their activities...and some really DO like to talk about it. And so, be aware, but also enjoy yourself this holiday season.
Patch can't confirm whether or not last week's spate of were holiday-related crimes of opportunity. But we're hoping heeding Lurz's advice will mean that we won't have to write more about them in next week's crime log.