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Be smart, stay safe this holiday season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for some criminals, that is. Along with holiday cheer comes the inevitable property crime that accompanies Christmas shopping and gift-giving.

Brookhaven police are asking the public to step up security efforts to cut down on the number of thefts.

“We are asking all businesses and homeowners to invest in a surveillance system,” Police Chief Kenneth Collins said. “If they can. If they can afford it. That helps law enforcement out so much with identifying these criminals. A lot of times people don’t want to talk. The camera don’t lie.”

Collins said the use of security systems may also help deter criminals during the holiday season when people typically have more packages delivered to their homes.

He’s also upping patrols through neighborhoods and businesses.

“I want the criminals to know that we’re out there, too. They’re watching and they may not commit a crime if they see those blue lights flashing. Whatever they’re fixing to do, they may not do it,” he said.

While all businesses and individuals can’t afford a security system, there are low-cost and free ways to reduce the chance of criminal activity.

Leaving lights on is wise for both businesses and individuals. A home or business that appears dark and vacant makes an easy target.

Keeping valuables out of sight — both in homes and vehicles — will help reduce burglaries. And don’t put that huge TV box out at the curb after you unwrap it. It’s a welcome sign for would-be thieves.

Ensuring doors and windows are locked when no one is home is always a good idea. A criminal may not want to risk the noise and commotion of breaking a window or kicking in a door.

Be careful with delivered packages. If no one will be home when a package is delivered, consider shipping it to your workplace or a neighbor’s home.

And lastly, report any suspicious activity to police — you would expect a neighbor to do the same for you, so don’t hesitate to get involved if something looks odd.

These steps won’t prevent all crimes this holiday season, but any reduction in property crime is good news for everyone.