Neighborhood thieves say ho, ho, ho as they steal your new holiday gifts


From our house to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa. Many blessings to all this holiday season.

While celebrating, keep in mind that some people will scavenge our neighborhoods to see — and steal — what others received as gifts.

Now you may wonder, “How will they know what I got for Christmas?’’ So once again I want to go over in detail what you need to do:

The following should be done as soon as you finish holiday activities with family and friends:

▪ Do not place empty boxes of toys, electronics, computer equipment and appliances outside for garbage pickup day.

▪ Take every box, tear it up or squash it and place in a large black garbage bag, the ones you use for leaves. By doing this anyone driving around checking out “garbage’’ will not see what new items you have received.

▪ Mark all new and used equipment with your driver license number, using an electronic engraver or permanent marker. If it’s stolen and police find it, they will be able to trace the merchandise back to you.

Police departments all over the country have storage facilities filled with equipment they cannot return because the objects are not identifiable. So please take the time to mark all your items. This also can serve as a deterrent. When criminals notice that something is marked they will not bother with it.

▪ You should also take the time to fill out those little registration cards and send them in to the companies. This will provide you with a record of your item should you need one in the future. And don’t forget to keep a copy for you.

All of this may sound like a hassle to do, but trust me these steps will help not only in preventing a possible burglary but also help in the recovery of your property.

As we travel during the next few days visiting friends and relatives, please remember one thing that is crucial while out on the road: Wear your seat belt and make sure your children are properly restrained.

Remember, while people celebrate New Year’s Eve, there will be lots of drinking. A drunk driver does not care who he or she kills, therefore you must be extremely alert in the car. Don’t be on your cellphone while driving — you need to pay attention to those cars that surround you.

If you are having an event at your home, please be brave and strong don’t let someone drive away if they seem drunk. Take those keys, call them a cab or ride share. You may save their life — and someone else’s.

Last, but not least: There are those who like shooting their guns on New Year’s Eve. The minute you hear shots, please call the police. The bullet that goes up must come down, therefore placing everyone in danger of being killed or seriously wounded. You don’t have to give your name, just the location you think its coming from.

The best way to protect yourself and your friends: Have everyone come inside the house when the clock strikes midnight.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.