‘Tis the Season for Holiday Crimes
We wait for the holidays all year. It’s a time to celebrate, focus on family and friends, say goodbye to last year, and welcome in the next. For some, it’s a time for travel—to tropical beaches, vacation houses, ski slopes, or childhood homes. For others, it’s about shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on their list. The unfortunate reality, however, is that all of these scenarios can also involve holiday crimes—especially theft, robbery, and burglary.
Holiday Crime Trends: Package Theft
Every holiday season, almost half a million homes are burglarized in the United States. Around 88% of homeowners worry that packages left outside their homes will get stolen. And December rates of robbery and personal larceny are 20% higher than the average monthly rate of these crimes.
The growth of e-commerce is a major driver of holiday crimes like package theft. About 57% of consumers shopped online for holiday presents in 2022, compared to 42% in 2015. Industry experts project that holiday e-commerce sales will top $220 billion in 2023.
And although in-store pickups have become common, most people still have packages delivered to their homes. The United States Postal Service processes 23.8 million packages each day. And that’s on average. December is the busy season at the USPS.
In a 2017 survey from Shorr Packaging Company, 61% of respondents said they felt online retailers weren’t doing enough to prevent package theft. The responsibility, then, is yours.
Traveling Creates Opportunities for Burglars
Remember the movie Home Alone? In it, two burglars case a well-to-do neighborhood in Illinois. One even pretends to be a police officer coming by to make sure the family has taken the proper precautions against holiday crimes. He fishes to find out what security equipment they have installed. Mrs. McAllister, the mother of the family, even tells the police officer they will be traveling to Paris. This is great news for the pseudo-cop, who assures the family that he will keep a watchful eye when the family is away.
That isn’t too far off from the truth. Researchers at UNC conducted a study that examined the decision-making processes of 422 incarcerated burglars. According to their findings, about one-third of offenders collected information about a potential target before initiating a burglary attempt. About 12% typically planned burglaries, and 37% said they engaged in a combination of spontaneity and planning.
For this reason, it’s crucial for homeowners and renters to secure their homes.
Holiday Crime Prevention Tips
Police departments recommend all sorts of holiday crime prevention tips. These range from the obvious (lock your doors and windows) to the offbeat (get a dog and plant thorny shrubs underneath windows).
There are several ways you can secure your home and your packages during the holiday season.
- Leave delivery instructions for couriers or schedule a delivery time
- Require a signature for packages
- Choose an alternative delivery location like your workplace or a package locker system
- Have a friendly neighbor swing by to pick up your packages and mail when you’re not home
- Keep your travel plans and photos off of social media
- Put fresh batteries in security sensors
- Leave some lights on—better yet, put them on timers
- Discreetly dispose of boxes and packages for large-ticket purchases
- Don’t run external holiday light cords through a cracked window or door
- Invest in a security system that incorporates home security cameras and live camera monitoring services (like Deep Sentinel!)
Have a very merry crime-free holiday season!