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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- People can learn a lot about you by what you throw away -- including thieves.
That's especially true during and after the holidays when people's trash cans are filled with the empty boxes from fresh Christmas presents. Those boxes are like beacons to criminals looking to steal the merchandise from your home.
Jean and Marty Jones illustrate perfectly what the day after Christmas is often always about: the clean-up.
Jean says they usually spend Dec. 26 "clearing up the debris of the celebration. We have some folks coming in to visit tomorrow, so I want to get the house clean."
To do that, they discard the boxes that all their new Christmas gifts came in. Police say that simple act could make them the target of potential burglars.
"Actually you'll be an advertisement to people who are trying to look for crimes of opportunity to break into your home," said LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell.
Looking in trash containers is an easy way for criminals to get an idea of what's inside your home without sneaking around and peering into windows. Everything they need to know about what's inside is written clearly on the unwrapped boxes outside your door.
"They're looking for quick things they can grab, quick things they can pawn," Mitchell said.
Police say this has become a real issue over the years, so LMPD officials have these tips: rip or cut up those boxes that once held expensive electronics or other valuables; then fold them inside-out to ensure would-be thieves won't easily be able to figure out what you have. Then put those empty boxes in dark trash bags.
"It's a way of concealing what you have and maybe they'll go to the next house that doesn't do that," Mitchell said.
Sure, it may sound like common sense, but the next time you drive around your neighborhood, take a look at all of the people inadvertently setting themselves up as potential victims.
"I think I better be a little cautious, and pay attention to what I'm doing," Jean said.
And don't forget to keep valuables out of sight in your vehicle whenever possible. Even a locked car won't stop a determined thief.