Simple ways to avoid being a theft victim this holiday season

By Bailey Myers, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017, 6:17 PM EST

While you're inside shopping on Black Friday, law enforcement will be outside, monitoring your cars.

  • Almost 250 vehicles broken into this time last year
  • Deputies say there are simple ways to avoid being a theft victim
  • Sheriff: 'We still want people to be vigilant'
  • FULL COVERAGE: Black Friday store hours

Last year, the Orange County Sheriff's Office says 244 vehicles were broken into.

And most of the time, you can prevent this from happening, deputies said: Simply lock your car and take your valuables with you.

"We will be out in plain clothes, we will be out working with security to surveil these areas, but that still doesn't mean that we want people to let down their guard," Sheriff Jerry Demings said. "We still want people to be vigilant in protecting themselves."

Thieves aren't just focused on snatching stuff from your vehicle this holiday season. They're also looking for easy grabs at your front door.

This time last year, the Orange Sheriff's Office looked into 27 robberies and 65 home burglaries.

So what can you do? Experts say to remove packages from your porch immediately. Also, don’t put marked boxes next to your garbage — it tips off thieves to the cool gifts you just got.

"They (criminals) just figure it's the holidays, and people are out shopping, getting gifts for their loved ones," CFL Alarms owner Jay Pulchan said.

"You're spending money, and you have valuables in your home. People want to protect that. That's why there is an increase in people wanting home alarm systems during the holidays," he said.

Some invest in motion-detecting lights and loud alarm systems, but others equip their homes with cameras and smart alarm systems that can sense when someone walks up to your door or windows. The sensors will then snap and send you a picture.

Overall burglary and robbery reports are on a downward trend, law enforcement officials say. To continue that pattern, deputies are beefing up patrols in major shopping areas.

"We've got a message to criminals: We are going to put you in jail if you are going to prey on our innocent people here," Demings said.