NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As the holiday season closes in, police remind homeowners their homes can be a target for criminals.
Many people let presents build up under the tree, but North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Lieutenant Guy Johnson says criminals are very aware of that also.
He explained presents shouldn't be left underneath the tree too early, and it's important not to showcase your tree too much.
"Do not put the Christmas tree or presents out where they can be seen from the windows, or you know, if you open the door," Lt. Johnson explained.
Lt. Johnson suggests you keep your tree towards the back of your home, but if it's already in the front, be sure to keep your blinds closed.
He says even when you're going to bed, it's important to know which lights to turn off and which to leave on.
"Leave the outside lights on, but turn the Christmas tree and the outside decorations off," Lt. Johnson stated.
He says whether you're staying home for the holidays, or skipping town, you need to make your home look lived-in at all times.
This can be done by having self-timers on both indoor and outdoor lights, as well as leaving a TV or radio on.
"If somebody does come to the door and listens, they think ssomeone'sin there," Johnson said.
You can also put your home on a watch list.
Police will ask you if anyone else has access to your home and which cars are normally around your home.
Johnson says they won't just do a drive by.
"We just walk around the house and make sure everything's still locked up, windows are still intact," Johnson explained.
Lt. Johnson says you should also tell your neighbors if you're headed out or if you're expecting a package.
Carol Pagelsen says her neighbors watch out for one another. She's usually home to answer her door bell when a package gets dropped off, but she says her neighbors are ready to step in.
"If they know we're not here, they will grab the package and call me or if they see me come home they will give it to me right away," Pagelsen explained.
Lt. Johnson suggests people keep an extra eye out for suspicious activity around the holidays.
"If you notice a car driving by slowly, or see people you've never seen before, you can call us and we'll come check it out," Johnson said.
Johnson reminds people that just because the holidays are over, doesn't mean you can let your guard down.
He says you should be mindful of what you're throwing away, and criminals have an eye for electronics, TVs, and other similar items.
When it comes to boxes and trash, Johnson suggests it not only be broken down, but also hidden in trash bags so no one is able to see what's inside.