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Tips on keeping your items and home safe this holiday season

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 08 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 10 2012 05:38:48 AM CST

Package stolen from family

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

 Police are looking for a kid criminal -- a tyke who became the Grinch that stole one family's Christmas.  It's a crime that happens all too often this time of year, according to law enforcement.

Caught on camera: a diminutive deviant making off with a Bethlehem family's package from Amazon.  On the Vannata family's security tape, you can see a dark four-door sedan pull up to their home on Fifth Avenue.  A young boy in a blue t-shirt runs out, snatches their delivery from Amazon.com, and runs back into the car.  The whole caper took less than 15 seconds.

The family didn't want to talk on camera, but they hope it serves as a warning to others.

Police said people are often victims because they fail to follow some basic safety tips.  The National Crime Prevention Council has five simple ways to stay safe.

1. Install a home security system

A 2009 Rutgers University study found homes with security systems are 20 percent less attractive to crooks.

"I have big dogs, and an alarm system on my house, so we're pretty safe," said Rebecca Caraballo of Salisbury Twp., Lehigh County.

2. Don't advertise your travel plans

We've all seen what happened in the movie "Home Alone" when the family goes on vacation.

3. Don't show off your gifts

The NCPC urges people to not make any presents visible from your windows, and don't leave boxes for things like new TVs and computers outside with the garbage.  It's a red flag for thieves, they said.

"I never even thought of that," said Kelcy McIntyre, a shopper from Bethlehem.

4. Update your home's entry points

Thieves are lazy, according to cops, so they look for doors and windows that look easy to bust open.  So head to your local home improvement store and ask about materials that can shore-up those areas.

5. Be aware of your surroundings

Believe it or not, the NCPC said most burglars actually live in their neighborhoods they target, so when you're heading home from shopping, look around carefully before you walk inside with gift bags.  Come home in groups if possible, and during the day.

Finally, as the Vannatas learned the hard way, require a signature for any deliveries you get.