Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Family From Holiday Season Break-Ins

For most, the holiday season means family, friends, food-and, of course, presents. But for criminals, the holiday season means something entirely different: the opportunity to cash in on homes full of carefully wrapped gifts, including lots of easy-to-sell electronics and jewelry.

Last year, there were about 1.6 million reported residential burglaries. About 300,000 of those were home invasions, which means one or more household members were present at the time of a break-in, and became victims in violent crimes.

Here are 5 easy ways to make your home just a bit more safe.




1_GET A CENTRALLY-MONITORED HOME SECURITY SYSTEM

Local alarms make lots of noise, but they don't call for help when you're in distress. Home security systems from companies like ADT monitor for break-ins, fire, and other dangers such as carbon monoxide, when you're home and when you're not. Pay a one-time installation fee, and your monthly membership connects you to a 24/7 monitoring service.

Starts about $38 per month, ADT






RELATED: Wireless Monitoring Systems


2_BUY VALUABLE TIME WITH A CROSS-BAR POLICE LOCK

Don't depend on chain locks to prevent kick-ins or forced entry. If you really want to reinforce vulnerable doors-like the garage entry-use a heavy-duty lock like this one. The double steel bars protect your home from the inside out.

About $179, Nokey








RELATED: Burglar-Proof Your Entry This Holiday Season


3_UPLOAD SOME MOBILE PHOTO APPS IF YOU'LL BE AWAY FROM HOME

Platinum Protection's interactive app is one of the more versatile home security applications on the market. For a one-time $60 fee, you can download apps that let you view live and archived video of your home, turn lights on and off, and control home security systems when you're not at home. Here's a list of other home security smartphone apps for download.

Free download with Platinum Interactive membership, Platinum Protect




RELATED: How to Stop Break-Ins

4_INSTALL A MOTION-SENSOR FLOODLIGHT

Sometimes, something as simple as a sudden burst of light can scare off burglars. This motion-activated model senses movement up to 40 feet away, and can be set to chime, too. Dusk-to-dawn setting allows the light to automatically turn off in the daytime.

About $38, Smart Home

Need help with the installation? Check out our How to Install a Garage Floodlight Step-by-Step.





5_CONSIDER INVESTING IN A BACK-UP POWER SUPPLY

Protecting your electronics can protect your family when main power lines go down due to storms-or are cut. A standby generator such as this one from Generac provides enough energy to power a mid-sized home, and switches on automatically when there's an outage. You can get portable generators at more affordable rates, too.

About $1,800, Home Depot






For the rest of our home security upgrades, see 14 Ways to Prevent Holiday Season Break-Ins at thisoldhouse.com