SAINT PETERSBURG, Fla — It’s Christmas, and the gifts are all unwrapped from under the tree; but before you throw out those gift boxes, St. Pete police have a warning.

“If we know that we've gotten a big-screen television, we do not put the box at the side of the road because thieves will look for those types of things,” said Mark Williams of the St. Pete Police Department. “It's like window shopping. Anything that you put at the side of the road will be viewed as that is now in the house, and it's a possible opportunity for them to take advantage of those things that you may have gotten for Christmas that you're trying to enjoy for yourself.”

Alex Quintos of Causeway Isles said he and his family take extra steps during the holidays to make sure they are not targeted for burglaries.

“When we do get boxes, especially things that are expensive, we don't like to leave them in our trash cans. We have to actually take it to our office and dump it at our office, which is a bigger dumpster and nobody really goes into that,” he said.

St. Pete police suggest breaking down boxes and putting them in recycling bins if you need to get them out immediately. Otherwise, it’s best to wait until after the holidays are over or right before your trash pickup day.

“Crime of opportunities are always around holidays. So, when people get the new gifts, whether they leave their toys outside or their new activities that they receive for the holidays outside, it creates the opportunity for someone that will take advantage of that,” said Williams, who also urged people to take extra precautions with their vehicles.

“If it's something that you think is valuable, you want to make sure that you secure it,” he said. “Especially when we're talking about weapons, firearms. Vehicle burglaries have been kind of seen a slight uptick, so we want to make sure that we keep those things secured and safe during the holiday season and beyond."

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her onTwitter. You can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com.

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