As those Christmas presents start piling up, burglars like to start prowling around in search of expensive items to steal.
Assistant Police Chief Richard Cantu warns that shoppers should keep their vehicles locked at all times. If they leave merchandise in their vehicles while going from one store to another, it is a good idea to make sure the shopping bags and packages are out of sight.
One way to do this is to lock the items in the trunk of the vehicle.
Everyone should also be careful to keep doors and windows locked at home when no one is there.
Expensive gifts should not be placed under the family Christmas tree. That is the first place a burglar will look once he gets into a victim’s home.
One idea is to put empty packages under the tree while the real gifts are safely locked in a closet.
Cantu said homeowners should activate their alarm systems or have neighbors watch their home if they plan to be away for an extended period of time.
Other security tips include timers on indoor lights to make it look like the home is occupied.
For anyone who plans to be out of town for the holidays, Cantu recommends calling the Beeville Police Department to report what days they will be gone.
The BPD provides an extra vacation patrol list at no charge, for those who will be gone. Officers on duty will take the time to specifically check on homes that are on the list.
Cantu said it also is a good idea to avoid serious mishaps that could bring the fire department to a home, whether it is occupied or not.
Homeowners should never use kitchen ranges to heat a cold house. He said that is a common practice in South Texas where some homes do not have proper heating systems.
One of the most dangerous risks of using the burners of a gas kitchen range to heat a home is the potential of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide can kill the occupants of a home while they sleep.
Health and safety experts warn that carbon monoxide can easily reach lethal levels in a tightly sealed home before anyone knows there is a problem. Victims will not wake up after they have been poisoned by carbon monoxide.
Cantu reminds residents to turn out lighted Christmas decorations when occupants go to bed at night and also when no one is home.
Leaving decorative lights burning has been known to cause house fires.
This time of year it is especially important for residents to maintain working smoke detectors. Appliances that heat homes use either natural gas or electricity to create the heat. A malfunction in any of those systems can easily lead to a house fire.
Victims of house fires have been known to die of smoke inhalation long before any flames have started to burn the home or its contents.
Be safe this holiday season.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.