How to: Avoiding holiday crimes this time of year

How to avoid holiday crimes and scams this 2018 holiday season. (WLUK/Chris Schattl)

APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) -- They can be called porch pirates or purse thieves. Criminals like these tend to appear, this time of year.

There are holiday crimes to watch out for and ways to avoid them.

Porch pirates: They are people who swipe packages from porches or front doorsteps when you're not home, and leave you empty handed.

“It's really a good idea to make alternative arrangements for those packages, if you’re not going to be home to pick those up,” Appleton Police Department Sergeant David Lund said.

Arrangements, like having your packages sent to your employer, or scheduling a time to have them picked up.

Lund said you need to be cautious whether you're shopping online, or even in a store.

“There’s more money in people’s hands this time of the year, so maybe it could be that a purse is left on the front seat, or a wallet left in console, and those become very inviting targets for people looking for quick money,” he said.

Officials say robberies, thefts and burglaries are often crimes of opportunity, and they tend to increase during the holidays.

While this can be the most wonderful time of the year, it’s also the most dangerous when it comes to fraudulence.

So much so, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection compiles a list each year of holiday-related issues.

Officials say one of the most dangerous places can be your email accounts.

“Scam artists send fake shipping emails to consumers, indicating that there is a package waiting for them, and all they need to do is confirm some information or verify some information, and then they’ll be no delay with the delivery,” DATCP Bureau of Consumer Protection director Michelle Reinem explained.

Experts say, if you will be out of town for the holidays, make sure to stop your mail delivery. Piled-up mail or packages can tell thieves that you’re not home.

You could also leave a few lights on inside your home.

Lund says it’s really just thinking and planning ahead, and not tipping thieves off that you’re not home.

“Even if you’re going to be out of the area for a day or two. Just making the house still look like it’s lived in.”

After Christmas, don’t throw all those boxes of presents out on the curb, either.

That can advertise to criminals what is inside the home.

Instead, cut them up, and you may cut your chances for a break-in.

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