Prosecutors give safety reminders during holidays

Police remind people to keep their homes safe during the holidays.

In the rush to get things ready for the holidays, police caution not to put your own security at risk.

Thieves are as busy as shoppers this season. A recent Eyewitness News video showed several cars in the downtown area with valuables in plain sight. Thieves know this and often target Christmas shoppers, as they did on Black Friday at Castleton Square Mall, when they broke into several cars.

"Burglary is one of the largest property crimes in the country, especially this time of year," said Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Amie Martens.

But it is also a preventable crime, which is the message Marion County prosecutors are sending to residents in Fountain Square Saturday, one in a series of burglary prevention seminars.

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make this time of year?

"Right now, Christmas trees by windows. Nothing says 'gifts' more than Christmas trees by the window," Martens said.

Landscaping around the home can make a difference. Bushes shouldn't be too concealing and no furniture near the home to help a thief get access to an upstairs window. And when it comes to lighting, the more the merrier.

A simple tip, prosecutors say, is to keep your doors locked, but you also want to make sure the locks are working properly.

"The latch has fallen off the strike. You can use anything to get in," said locksmith Barry Campbell.

Campbell says 40 percent of the homes he sees have faulty locks or locks not installed properly.

"You need to make sure the deadbolt is a full inch," Campbell said. "Even new construction, not extended long enough."

In the rush to finish your Christmas shopping, experts advise you take time to protect your valuables so you can have peace of mind this holiday season.