It is the most dangerous time of the year.

Unless you do something about it, the holidays will always make criminals merry. During the holidays, there are a lot of opportunities to commit crime: people are distracted, they leave their belongings in the car, and are busy with more shopping money than usual. Crimes are not only targeted at persons but also at properties, since most will be leaving their homes to be with friends and families.

Crime rate normally increases by 30% during the holidays. You need to be alert while inside the mall or parking your car. You have to know how much cash you stashed in your bag and hold it close. But what about your home? Burglars feel like opening gifts in holidays and they could be looking right outside your window for a really special haul.

Not to put you on panic mode, but if you want a crime-free holiday, you have to find ways to keep your family and your home safe. There are easy and very affordable ways to ensure home security on holidays. Assuring a safe home while on vacation is not a herculean task, but mostly just about diligence, awareness, and common sense.

Here are 9 holiday home security tips to make sure only your acquaintance will come sneaking at your home.

Keep valuables in a safe

When you leave the house on holidays, make sure your cash and valuables are kept in a password-protected safe. Make sure your money, credit cards, checkbooks, jewelry, and even gadgets you’re not bringing on the trip are kept in parts of the home that are secure. These small valuables are what burglars are after: they are lightweight and cost a lot.

Think of yourself as a burglar: where would you likely search? Needless to say, don’t put them there. Burglars don’t like working overtime so if they won’t be able to find something valuable in the first few minutes, they will most likely leave. According to researches, an average burglar normally takes 10 minutes from creeping around your home and searching your house to getting away.

Bolster door and window locks

Do your Christmas lights run through the window? This is a holiday problem that a lot of home owners can relate to. One basic upgrade to improve home security is installing an inexpensive exterior outlet for your holiday lights.

The next step is to burglarproof your doors and windows by securing them with simple hardware materials. Burglars love unlocked doors and windows. According to statistics, 30 % of intruders entered a home through an unlocked door, window or other opening without resorting to force.

Make sure your doors are secure by installing solid core doors, heavy duty locks, longer screws in the lock strike plates, security chains, and door hinges. Install secondary security devices in all accessible sliding windows or if you can afford to put up metal bars, go ahead.

Leave them as they are

Do you close the curtains totally to prevent people from peeking inside your house while you’re away? Or do you open them to give the idea that someone’s home?

It is best to leave the curtains exactly as they are when you are home. Noticeable changes, such as closed curtains for two weeks, can give burglars a hint that you are away. A basic home security tip is giving burglars the idea that nothing’s changed. Don’t forget to move expensive items such as computers out of plain sight.

Invest on a light timer

Aside from the curtains, make sure to leave the lights on as you normally would. Nothing is more attractive to intruders than a house with no lights on for days. Beef up your home security on holidays by purchasing an inexpensive light switch timer that you can program or schedule to turn on and off at different parts of the day. When your lights are flipping, burglars will think that someone’s home.

Stop the mail

A pile of newspapers and letters at the doorstep or in the mailbox could serve as a signal to burglars. If you are going away for more than a week, it is best put a stop order on subscriptions. If not, at least ask a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail. If you live in a condo or a subdivision, you can ask the security personnel to keep the mail for you.

Stay away from social media

Stop oversharing on social media to ensure a safe home while on vacation. According to an ADT study, over half of young people post their location on social media, a fact that burglars take advantage of. Sharing your location and pictures on vacation makes you an easy target for a tech-savvy intruder. Remember that the wrong people could be looking at your photos. A survey of ex-burglars also found that over 75% believe that most intruders today use social media to find easy properties to target. Furthermore, a Friedland study revealed that 74% of burglars also use Google Street View in home thefts.

Remove spare key under “secret places”

That flower pot outside the doorstep is not fooling anyone. Never again “hide” spare keys under the mat, inside the mailbox, on top of the door frame, or inside the garbage bin. Your cover has long been figured out. Burglars do not like using force because it creates noise. They would reach under the mat and inside the mailbox so make sure you won’t be giving them an easy time.

Set the alarm

Installing an alarm system is a good investment, regardless of the time of the year. A survey of convicted burglars showed that 60% considered the presence of an alarm before breaking into a home. Half of the respondents said they would discontinue the attempt if an alarm is present. Whether you are going away or staying at home, make sure you set the alarm and stay vigilant.

There are also mobile applications now that let you view live video feed from your smart phone. Such basic upgrades to improve home security are not expensive, too. This is a worthy investment that lets you keep your home safe anytime, anywhere.

Don’t stock gift boxes

So you got a new flat screen TV for a special holiday like Christmas. The burglar doesn’t need to know. Don’t pile up empty gift boxes of your new laptop, DVD player, or cellphone outside your house. Conceal them in a garbage bag and don’t give burglars the idea that you have new appliances in the house.

Keeping your home safe this holiday season should not take so much from you. It’s easy and affordable. Whether you are staying home, hosting a party, or going away on vacation, it is best to keep your home safe all year round. Peace of mind is priceless and nothing is as valuable and worth it than the safety of your family.