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Criminals use your empty packages as clues to steal thousands of dollars in merchandise

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As the holiday season comes to a close, police are warning everyone to be aware of what they are putting in their garbage, because it could give criminals a peek at the brand new valuables inside of their home.

“It alerts the potential suspects to the house and they see that the people have just received a TV and all different types of electronics. So, they think it will be a good house to hit,” said IMPD officer Aaron Hamer.

Police say that the empty gift boxes sitting in the trash give thieves motivation to find a new way to get inside of your home and criminals use the boxes as clues more often than we may think.

“It is not good to advertise the gifts,” said Officer Hamer.

Hamer responded to more than a dozen home burglaries last holiday season that he says stemmed from people leaving boxes out in plain sight.

“When we go and talk to the victim and they report their crimes and the items that are missing it is always jarring to notice that there is a box outside of the home that matches the item that they are missing,” said Officer Hamer.

Once you are done opening up your gifts after the holidays, make sure you break down the boxes, ripping them apart and completely hiding the label and description of the item. If that is too much work, put all of the boxes in a dark colored garbage bag before putting it out for pickup.

“We want to make sure that we are not drawing attention to ourselves and the gifts we have, so we will even drive to drop the boxes off at the recycling center,” said a neighbor.

Adding a security system and taking advantage of your neighborhood watch groups are also helpful to deter criminals who spend their time casing homes before they try and break in.

“If you see something, say something. Watch out for your neighbors’ homes and watch out for your home as well,” said Officer Hamer.

IMPD also alerts the public that it is not just the day after Christmas that thieves look for the boxes; they will continue to check trash for weeks.

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