Theft one of the most prevalent crimes during holiday season

Huntsville
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -  Christmas Day has finally come. People have opened their homes to family, and families have opened gifts.

This time of year, though, thieves like to assume you've opened your home to them as well.

Especially because they know many people have new items, and the Madison County Sheriff's Office says there are measures you should take.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office said people with vehicles parked outside should make sure to remove belongings from view.

"Step up the '9 p.m. routine' at 9 o'clock or sometime when your retire for the night," said Lt. Donny Shaw. "Make sure all your windows are rolled up, your doors are locked, and all your valuables are removed from your vehicle."

You should also be careful taking out your holiday trash.

"Whenever you receive big box items - expensive items - don`t put the box on the curb, because that just shows that you have new, expensive items in the home," Shaw added.

Instead, you should cut up your boxes and put them into a black trash bag.

The sheriff's office said criminals are taking whatever is most accessible, especially when it appears no one is home.

"Have some form of light on, outside the exterior of your house," Shaw explained. " Whenever you leave, make sure you lock your doors at home. Everybody knows that people have Christmas presents and new things in their homes this time of year."

Shaw said it is becoming somewhat easier for law enforcement to identify thieves with the increase in home security cameras.

And his message for those looking to steal holiday joy in Madison County:

"Let's live honestly and not do those things and take away from people that are expecting to have something good for their family over the holidays," he stated.