JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that nearly 400,000 burglaries occur in the United States between November and December each year.
With the expensive gifts lying under the tree and residents away visiting relatives, it can be a sort of criminal's paradise.
But, there are steps you can take to keep your home safe from break-ins this holiday season.
The Cole County Sheriff's Department says the key is making it look like you are home, even if you are not.
The department says criminals will be out watching the neighborhoods looking for signs that a home is empty. Officers say things like piled up newspapers and stuffed mailboxes really tip off burglars.
"If you have a trusted neighbor or maybe a friend of the family, they need to be able to drive by there and pick up the mail, newspapers, stuff like that," said Capt. John Wheeler of the Cole County Sheriff's Department.
He says a lit house will scare off most criminals.
"Make sure that you have some lights on. Make it look like somebody's in the house," said Wheeler.
Experts say exterior lights are also a big help in discouraging crime. Motion lights are especially known to do the trick.
Then, of course, Wheeler says to make sure all your doors are locked.
"You don't want to make it easy for the criminal. Dead bolts. You should have a dead bolt on every door," he said.
Law enforcement officials say you also have to be smart about what you put online before you leave town. They say a social media status about your travel plans is a dead giveaway to burglars.
"When you put stuff out to people you're also putting it out to the bad guys. So, if you advertise on Facebook that you're going to be gone for a while, you're also advertising to the bad people," said Wheeler.
Both the Cole County Sheriff's Department and Jefferson City Police Department have special watches where they will drive by your home while you are out of town.
You just have to call and let them know ahead of time.
Here are the numbers:
Cole County Sheriff's Department: (573) 364-9160
Jefferson City Police Department: (573) 634-6400