It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Bad guys can see the signs of the holidays too. They always spring into action this time of year, leading to a surge in burglaries and car break-ins.

There are some easy things for you to do that will go a long way in protecting yourself and your neighbors against these crimes. Following these steps will send signals to the crooks that you and your home will not make for an easy target.

When you leave home for longer than just a few minutes, close your curtains or blinds. Checking your window latches periodically is also a good idea. Keeping your windows and doors locked is the best barrier between your loved ones’ holiday gifts and the bad guys. If they can’t see or easily get to the presents, the average crook will simply move on to an easier target.

Make a habit of keeping your garage door closed. An empty garage is big sign that makes would-be burglars look at your house with keen interest. It advertises the fact that you’re not home. And, even with the garage door closed, make sure you lock the door between the garage and your house. It’s easy to forget about that one.

If you know you’ll be out until after the sun sets, leave some lights on both inside and outside your home. Crooks do everything they can to stay hidden from light, so making lots of it lessens the likelihood that they’ll find your home appealing.

And finally, make sure you tell a friendly neighbor or a relative who lives in town when you’ll be gone and when you expect to return. Then, if your neighbors see any suspicious activity around your home, they’ll know to call us and request a property check.