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Authorities urge residents to secure homes for the holidays

While many people will travel out of town for Christmas, authorities in Chilton County urge residents to follow safety procedures for securing their homes for the holidays.

“Crooks are opportunists,” Thorsby Police Chief Rodney Barnett said. “A lot of times they will scope out a particular area that they are thinking about breaking into and if they know you are going to be out of town they will take advantage.”

Barnett suggested for anyone who will be leaving their home unoccupied for several days to have a neighbor or relative collect mail or keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.

“It is a good idea to get someone to take care of the mail because if you have mail piling up around your home then a criminal will be able to see that you are out of town,” Barnett said. “Also, it is a good idea to not post on Facebook that you will be heading out of town.”

Jemison Fire Chief John Dennis said one important thing to remember before heading out of town is to make sure all Christmas lights both indoors and outdoors are turned off.

“The wisest thing is to turn the lights off before you leave,” Dennis said. “It really isn’t a good idea to keep Christmas lights on when you aren’t at home at any point in time but specifically if you are planning to be out of town.”

For those who have freshly cut Christmas trees, Dennis said to make sure the tree is away from a heating vent and the Christmas lights are turned off to avoid causing a fire.

“Real trees as opposed to artificial dry out pretty fast,” Dennis said. “Even if you water them. The dryness can cause heat problems so just be mindful of making sure the tree is away from anything that might catch it on fire.”

Dennis said the holidays are an easy time to forget if electrical chords are being overused with multiple plugs going into one outlet.

“It is very easy to have a chord overloaded with plugs,” Dennis said. “We see an increase in calls this time of year because the stress of the holidays causes more medical issues and people using different types of heat and different things end up catching fire.”

Barnett said for anyone who will be staying at home or traveling during Christmas to dispose of boxes with pictures of gifts such as a television, a generator, toys or electronics in a plastic bag before placing them on the curb for trash pickup.

“If you toss out the box your new power saw came in then someone driving by can see that and know that you just got one of those,” Barnett said. “Just be mindful of anything you throw out to the trash because a criminal will see those items and try to take them.”