At Christmastime, you may be focused on gift giving and sharing time with friends and family, but there’s something else you need to keep in mind to make sure your holiday spirit doesn’t go out the window. Police warn that thieves could be trolling your neighborhood looking for boxes that were tossed to the curb for recycling or garbage. These boxes are billboards telling strangers and would-be thieves about the kinds of gifts you received during Christmas. For instance, that new flat-screen TV that made your holiday heart light up or that latest-edition Playstation your kid was so happy to receive are now visible to burglars. You may not see them cruising around your neighborhood looking for this kind of information, but there are many of them out there, everywhere. And the holiday boxes you innocently (trustingly) set out for recycling can become a veritable menu for criminals.

To combat this issue, many local police departments and waste disposal companies have set up programs called Operation Safe Disposal to help protect their communities. Large trash bins are set up at multiple points around your town or city, so residents can drop off their large boxes instead of leaving them outside of their homes, sitting in their driveways out of their protective view. To find out where these safe disposal areas are in your community, simply contact your trash removal company or your local police department for information about locations in your area.

And, no… it doesn’t matter what type of home or neighborhood you live in. Leaving empty boxes curbside until trash day is a telltale way to let would-be burglars know what kind of loot you received for Christmas. And they will want to see what other goodies you have in your home that they may be able to take advantage of. So… what can you do to deter them?

Here are a few helpful tips:

  • Break down your boxes and place them in the proper disposal bins
  • If your boxes are very large, then cut them up with scissors or a box-cutter and put them in a recycling bag
  • Contact your waste disposal company for their holiday hours or any changes in pick-up times to make sure you’re putting out your trash on the right days
  • If you have space, hang onto your boxes until the holidays are over, then put them out for a post-holiday pickup
  • If you have large un-marked cardboard boxes that the original packaging can fit into, unseen, use them to hide information about what had been in them
  • Use a large-tipped permanent marker to cross out any identifiable information on your trash, such as a name and address
  • Smaller boxes may fit into your trash bags; be sure to keep some dark, opaque garden trash bags on hand for this purpose

The bottom line is: Don’t let the endless joyful festivities of the season keep you from thinking and acting smart during the holidays. Take precautions so that you can celebrate without fear!

Do you have any tips to keep your home safe for the holidays? Leave a post below or tell us your story.

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