Keeping your home safe from crooks during the holiday season

Keeping your home safe from crooks during the holiday season

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Police officers want to urge homeowners to take extra care in securing your home during the holidays to prevent any break-ins.

The Myrtle Beach Police Department offers a service to check on your home while you're away. But before you look into that, there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself.

It may sound simple, but MBPD Lt. Joey Crosby says you need to make sure you lock all your doors and windows. It is sometimes easy to forget to lock that side garage door or a shed door. Also make sure the shades are down. That makes it difficult for anyone to peek in and scout out your home from the street.

And Lt. Crosby says move your Christmas tree and presents away from the windows. Displaying that makes you an easy target. In fact, he suggests you consider not setting the presents out under the tree until Christmas morning.

And if you are taking a trip, it is important to make sure you have enough lights set up around your home and put some on timers. "Make sure that your house is well lit so that anyone traveling by or a neighbor can easily look across the street or traveling by look at your residence and see if anyone is around your residence," said Lt. Crosby.

And if you've done all that and you would still like an extra pair of eyes watching out for your home, other than your trusted neighbors or family, you can call the police department to set up what's called a 'Keep Check'. You must live in the city limits of Myrtle Beach to do this. Call the Myrtle Beach Police dispatch number and tell them your address and how long you will be gone. An officer will check on your home as often as possible.

If you have a home security system and you believe it went off but police never responded, the disconnect is probably between you and the alarm company. Once your home alarm is activated, that information goes to the company call center. The call center then contacts the local police department. Lt. Crosby emphasized that when the department gets a call for service from an alarm company, an officer will always respond.

A Honeywell home security representative, Lewis Broome, suggests you do not get an alarm system that is based on a phone line. Because if a crook cut your phone lines, then your security system is useless. Instead, Broome suggests a digital one. That way when the alarm is activated, a representative can hear what's going on in your home and send the best information to police.

Police agree, you need to have a clear discussion before you buy anything. "If this is the first time that you've had an alarm or you're thinking about purchasing an alarm, certainly inquire with the alarm company as to what their steps are for notifying the police department," said Crosby.

Broome says a red flag to look for when comparing alarm system companies is if the representatives use sub-contracts. That is not safe, according to Broome. Also, make sure the company offers a warranty.

And make sure you are periodically testing the alarm system. See how long it will take for the company to contact you. If you don't hear anything, you know you need to give the company a call and get things fixed right away. Broome says Honeywell will actually contact you if they notice that your alarm system is not feeding back constant information after a period of time. That way representatives can open a report to check on you and the alarm system.

A popular feature for many home security systems right now is to have a motion sensor doorbell. So if anyone walks close to your door, the camera will take a picture and record video. It can also alert your smartphone. This is helpful as we're seeing so many packages being delivered during the holiday season. Those presents can end up getting stolen off your doorstep when you're not home. This security camera system helps give you a better chance at catching whoever did that.

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