Don't accidentally give burglars info they need to steal - Tucson News Now

Don't accidentally give burglars info they need to steal your stuff

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Thieves love this time of year.

People have new electronics and other gifts.

We all love to share with each other, tell each other what we got for Christmas.

Sometimes, though, if we're not careful, we also accidentally share with burglars and thieves.

Maybe you or someone you know has already been a victim.

The danger isn't over.

There are some simple things to do to keep from becoming a victim.

One of the easiest ways to give burglars a clue as to what is inside your home is to leave the box outside by the trash.

It could be the box for a big screen TV or a new laptop.

Law officers advise us to cut up those boxes and put them inside the trash can.

These days, a lot of people don't know their neighbors.

That situation can be a burglar's dream.

Law enforcement officers say, in areas where neighbors know each other and know their neighborhood, there generally are fewer burglaries.

What does it take to do that?

One local neighborhood association is getting people connected through email or by phone.

They watch out for each other and keep each other informed.

"Give them an update as much as we can about what is happening in the neighborhood as far as like maybe there's a woman going around that sometimes is asking for money for her baby to buy diapers, and we find it's a scam. So we can broadcast this to a large area to be on the alert," says Priscilla Ewy, La Canada Magee Neighborhood Association representative.

Ewy says neighbors should keep each other informed about everything, especially when there has been a burglary or theft.

She says getting all of that organized takes work but it's worth it.

"That is the best means of protection is to be organized, have a united front against whatever danger is out there. And watch out for your neighbors. Be connected however you can be," Ewy says.

She also urges neighbors to call 911 about anything suspicious.

Pima County Sheriff's Sergeant Patrick Hilliker says "If you don't think something looks right, it probably isn't."

Hilliker says there's another place we accidentally leave clues for crooks.

It's social media.

You never know who's looking at what you post.

"Social media is not as secure as some people think it would be and would like it to be.Thieves can use that to see when you're out of town, what you've received for Christmas, what you bought your loved ones--especially when they know you're out of town. So if you do go out of town, try not to advertise it on the social media as much and make sure your neighbors know as well. Have a trusted neighbor, have trusted family come by and check your house often," Sgt. Hilliker says.

If the worst should happen, and your home is burglarized, call 911.

Hilliker says, then, there's one thing you should not do.

"If you do happen to get burglarized-- which we hope it doesn't--try not to touch anything just for our evidence purposes. Let us know. Let us get in there, do our evidence workup that we need to--maybe fingerprints or even DNA swabs that can be done that are left behind that help us with trying to find out who stole the items," Hilliker says.

The Pima County Sheriff's Office sent us a list of these and other tips to protect your property. You may want to print the list for yourself and your family and friends.

 - Take pictures, video or simply write down serial numbers and model numbers for electronics and large ticket items. If these items do get stolen, this is the most efficient and effective way of locating your property.

- If items do not have serial numbers, take pictures of them, especially jewelry. A picture will provide patrol deputies and detectives an exact description of the item stolen, instead of you having to rely on memory.

- Be cautious about advertising gifts you have received. Break down boxes and packaging prior to putting them in your trash/recycle bins.

- Try not to place large ticket items in plain view, such as in an open garage or directly in front of a large living room window that can be seen from the street.

- Be careful of the information you put on social media. Facebook and Twitter can be used by thieves to find out what gifts you have received and what gifts you have purchased for loved ones.  They also can find out when you're away from your home. If you post this information, it can be read by someone you don't want reading it.

We would also like to provide further tips for everyday protection of your personal property:

- Lock all doors and windows when you leave your home.

- Think about purchasing an alarm system for your home. If you can't afford an elaborate system, surveillance cameras and motion lights are becoming more reasonably priced. Alarm systems and motion lights are obviously a great deterrent for thieves. Video from cameras can be streamed and recorded through home computer systems and smart phones.

- Have trusted friends or neighbors check on your home while you're gone. Remember to have them pick up your newspaper and check your mail on a daily basis.

- In the unfortunate event you do get burglarized, call 911 immediately and try not to touch any areas with which the suspect may have had contact. The Pima County Sheriff's Department Identification Technicians may be able to obtain latent fingerprints or collect DNA swabs from the crime scene.

- Above all else, be attentive and observant of your home, neighboring homes and community. You know your neighborhood better than we do and if something looks suspicious, it probably is. Do not hesitate to call 911 for suspicious persons, vehicles or activity in your neighborhoods. What you might think is nothing, could lead to the apprehension of criminals and increase the safety of your community.

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