The Evanston Police Department is offering some advice to residents on how to avoid becoming a crime victim over the holidays.

With homes filled with gifts and goodies and many residents taking vacations, the holiday season can provide an attractive opportunity for burglars.

The police suggest making your house look “lived in” when you’re away.

  • Never let items pile up in the mailbox or on the porch. It sends the message that no one is home or watching the residence. Arrange with a trusted neighbor to pick up your mail, newspapers, and garbage cans. They live in your neighborhood & know what looks suspicious in the area.
  • Do not stop the mail or paper delivery. You never know who is taking the call on the other end.
  • Make arrangements with trusted friends, neighbors or family to shovel the driveway, and maintain the property.
  • Set automatic timers for interior and exterior lights, radio, and TV’s. Turn the ringer down on the phone. A ringing phone alerts others that no one is home.
  • Leave window shades in a “normal” position, or have your “house-watcher” move the window shade positioning throughout your vacation or your time away from your home. Do not close the blinds.
  • Lock valuables in a safe deposit box or fire safe. Document all valuables via videotape and place this and important serial numbers in a safe deposit box as well.
  • Notify the police department and request a “special watch” or “vacation watch.”
  • Lock all ladders and lawn supplies in a shed or garage and make sure your garage is secured at all times.
  • Take your garage door openers out of your vehicles. Remove important papers and documents with personal information on them. Have vehicles moved on occasion, so as to not be parked in one spot all the time.
  • Make sure your burglar and fire alarms are in working condition. Test them with the alarm company and make sure your alarm company has an updated call list.
  • Secure your windows by pinning them and place a security bar in the track of sliding glass doors.
  • Leave emergency contact information with the police or a trusted neighbor.

Whether you’ll be traveling or not, the department also suggests forming or joining a neighborhood watch program. Information is available from the department’s Community Strategies Bureau at 847-866-5019. Also, consider joining a community list-serve or communication network.

Sign-up to receive the Daily Crime Bulletin by e-mail. (A daily crime map and list are also available on Evanston Now.) 

If you see a suspicious person or vehicle, don’t hesitate to notify the police by calling the Non-Emergency number at 847-866-5000 or 911 for emergencies.

You can also schedule a free security assessment from a community policing officer by calling the Community Strategies Bureau.

And always close and lock your garage doors and all exterior doors on your home. 

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