As many people leave their homes empty for a few days to travel for the holidays, they create a perfect target for thieves.
However, Ofc. Brandie Banda said there are some ways to make your home less desirable to criminals. The key is to making it appear like someone is home, but Ofc. Banda said thieves are no longer fooled by people leaving their lights on. Instead, she suggested using automatic lights that are set to go on and off throughout the day and evening.
"Keep the outside of the home lit up, we always suggest that, so that criminals can't get in and around and be hidden by the dark to get into a house," said Ofc. Banda. "Motion lights are great too, that way if anybody comes up, you know the lights are coming on."
If you do not have automatic lights in your house, Ofc. Banda said it is safer to leave a couple lights or the TV on while you are away. You can also leave your dog outside in the yard as an extra deterrent to thieves, as long as you leave them with plenty of food, water and shade.
If possible, Ofc. Banda also said it is a good idea to have someone stop by your house. Not only can they check on your home, but they should also remove any mail and newspapers, as letting them pile up is an obvious sign to thieves that no one is home.
All windows and doors should be locked, using a deadbolt when available.
You can also let the Wichita Falls Police Department know when you are going to be away, and they will do a "Vacation Patrol Check."
"We'll have officers and sentinels go out and check on your home and make sure there's nobody there that shouldn't be," said Banda. "You can let them know what cars should be there while you're gone, and they'll drive through and just check on the house while you're on vacation."