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5 free ways to protect yourself against thieves this holiday season

The City of Killeen has seen 252 vehicle thefts and 86 residential thefts since August. Here are five things you can do to avoid being a target.

KILLEEN, Texas — People are already checking off their shopping lists this holiday season, but with more people out shopping there is also more opportunities for thieves. 

The City of Killeen has seen 252 vehicle thefts and 86 residential thefts since August and the Killeen Police Department says those crimes have consistently occurred all year. 

Here are five things the Killeen Police Department said people can do to avoid being targeted. 

1. Make sure your car doors are locked. 

Killeen PD spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez told 6 News Tuesday the majority of vehicle burglaries happen when people leave those vehicles unlocked. Miramontez said thieves will sometimes look for specific items to risk breaking in for, but will never pass up an opportunity to search an open car to see what they can find. 

"If you leave an ID in there its going to be used for identify theft. They can open an account with that ID or whatever the case may be," Miramontez said.  "These criminal go through the vehicle and find anything possible that they can."  

2. Don't leave valuables in your car 

Cell phones, purses, bags, backpacks, and any electronics can incentivize thieves to even break into locked vehicles. Bags with plenty of freshy bought presents are also a target. Miramontez said its better to lock those out of sight in a trunk. In some cases, she said, residents may even want to work with a relative to get those gifts home, or locked in a second vehicle, when they go out to shop.

3. Hide cell phone chargers, laptop bags, or any other miscellaneous electronic devices. 

Most of us keep these things in our car without a second though. If a thief is desperate enough, Miramontez said they might break into the vehicle hoping something is plugged in, or hoping the laptop is still in the bag. Hiding charging cables out of sight is a good way to prevent you from being a target. 

4. Don't keep your garage door opener in your car, if the car isn't in the garage. 

A burglar can easily break into a car with a garage door opener, and then use that item to get into your garage. If you use a garage door opener, it should end up in the garage whether still on the vehicle or not.   

5. Don't leave the boxes from your new gifts out for everyone to see. 

You might want all your friends to know about that fancy new flat screen,  even curved-screen, TV. That doesn't mean everyone who drives by on trash day should know about it. It can be easy to throw out those boxes without a second thought but Miramontez said its better to cut them up and put them in a bag.

"That's a sign for criminals that, hey, they have something new in their house," Miramontez said. "Break those boxes down, put them in a dumpster, or take them to a recycle area that the city offers." 

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