Empty Christmas boxes could tip off thieves to expensive gifts


Christmas has ended and all the packages have been unwrapped. Now, it’s time to throw all the boxes out.

But people should be careful about how they package their trash. Too often, they telegraph their expensive gifts by leaving boxes by the curbs. And that can make a thief’s job easier.

Read more: 7 items to buy on deep discount after Christmas (and 3 things to skip)

Keep boxes for high-priced electronics out of sight

“Everybody’s got new stuff right now and everybody knows it,” Overland, Missouri, police Sgt. Rich Will told KTVI. “When you leave it out there, basically you’re advertising to the bad guys in the neighborhood, ‘look what I got for Christmas.’”

Officers nationwide are warning people to break down boxes of high-priced Christmas gifts to ward off thieves.

In Jacksonville, Florida, for example, the sheriff’s office posted a warning on its Twitter account warning people not to advertise their possessions. In a story posted at Lifehacker, there is a word of caution tale Officer Rob Zink with the St. Paul Police Department. Zink says thieves will drive up and down streets and alleys to look for homes they might want to target later. They look for evidence of valuables, he said, like empty boxes, and note the addresses for homes that might be good targets.

For example, if you are throwing out an empty box for a large television set or expensive computer or electronic equipment, it could provide clues for criminals looking for a great target.

In Michigan, Lt. John Blue of the Portage Department of Public Safety told WWMT that taking some extra steps before throwing out the trash can help prevent a robbery.

“You can take it and throw it in your trash receptacle out of sight, you can take the advertisements out of it,” Blue told WWMT.

Mary Beth Quirk at Consumerist recommends you either cut up cardboard boxes, fold them inside-out so their labels are hidden, or make sure they are completely concealed in a recycling bin. It doesn’t hurt to wait until trash day to put out your concealed or cut up boxes, either.


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