'Tis the season ... to be on guard. Unfortunately, the lowlifes of the world use December as prime stealing season.

A Dublin Police Services officer told me that the incidents of home, car and mail burglaries are definitely up across the city. Whether it's thieves breaking into your home, following behind your mail carrier and stealing mail from the mailbox, grabbing delivered packages off your front porch or, in the case of my oldest son, from his parked car, law enforcement officials are telling everyone to be especially alert this time of year.

There are a variety of different tips available from numerous websites that can be quickly found through a search. In addition to those, I thought it might be helpful to add a few of the less obvious ones I've come across.

Check your social media settings. If you're one of those people obsessed with telling the world where you are 24 hours a day via Facebook or Twitter, either stop it at least in the month of December, tell everyone where you've been after the fact or make sure that only your real Facebook friends can see your posts. Law enforcement warns that some more sophisticated thieves are social media-savvy and look at your unguarded posts to know when you are and are not at home.

Adjust your home phone volume. If you are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, consider lowering the volume of your home phone. If it's a listed number, thieves can call it from outside your home and will wait to hear if you answer. If they can't hear the phone ring, they may be a bit more hesitant to break in.


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Signature required. With more and more of us shopping online, there are more and more thieves grabbing delivered packages off the porch. One option to consider is working with the main delivery companies -- UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service -- to adjust the way you receive your packages.

UPS has a free service (basic service is free, advanced options are fee-based) called My Choice. By signing up, you can get delivery alerts, require signatures for delivery or have your packages sent to the local UPS center for pickup. FedEx has a mobile system for package management, while the USPS is a bit more rudimentary. One option to consider if you are concerned about theft of USPS mail and packages during the holidays is to put a temporary hold on your mail delivery and pick it up at the post office. Yes, I know this would be a major hassle, but it is an option.

Finally, think like a burglar. If you had to find a way to break into your house, how would you do it? Are the locks old and flimsy? Are your doors and windows always closed and locked when you leave? Are your bushes or shrubs so high that they would provide a great place for a burglar to hide when trying to pry open your windows? Do you have an alarm system, not a highly visible alarm monitoring sign in the front of your house? Do you take the time to turn the alarm system on when you leave for work or to run errands?

Unfortunately, thieves are all around us, but you can reduce the number of incidents and maybe even help send a few of these bad apples to nearby Santa Rita Jail by being alert in your neighborhood, calling the police if you see unfamiliar people acting suspiciously and taking some proactive, common-sense actions.

Changing of the Guard: The recently elected members of the Dublin City Council were sworn into office last week. Former school board member David Haubert, incumbent Kevin Hart and re-elected Mayor Tim Sbranti all took their oaths of office.

Leaving the council after being termed out was Kasie Hildenbrand, who was recognized at the meeting for her service to the city.

Hildenbrand was active in promoting or supporting a variety of initiatives, including the building of new parks such as the Dublin Heritage Park & Museums, as well as affordable housing and pro-business initiatives, including spearheading Dublin's All America City designation.

"One of the things I will take from my time on the council is coming to love this city even more than I did when first elected. To represent the residents was a privilege and to take part in a variety of regional and local organizations confirmed to me that Dublin is truly the best place for me to raise my family and live."

Contact Alan Elias at elias2000@sbcglobal.net.

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