The holidays and New Year should be “the most wonderful tiiiiiiiime of the year!”

But for burglars and other crooks, it’s an opportunity time, with new merchandise around and families on the move.

But people can protect themselves. Here’s a list of home safety and security tips from the Kissimmee Police Department to keep yourselves and homes safe:

Let the Neighborhood Watch group know you’ll be away. Inform them of vacation plans so they can be extra alert to suspicious activity about your house. If there is no watch group, ask a friend or neighbor to check up on your residence, such as having them remove any packages on your doorstep or accumulated newspapers. Call the newspaper and post office, or go online, and put in a temporary delivery stop during vacation.

Keep your alarm systems updated. Inform your alarm company that you will be out of town. Provide a contact phone number. Give them the phone number of anyone checking on your residence; if the alarm is activated the company will be speaking to you or your friend, rather than the burglar in the house if they pick up the phone. Make sure motion detectors do not go off when they sense billowing curtains or pets.

Secure all the entries. Make sure all locks work. Fix cracks in doors or windows. Pin the garage door lock if it opens by remote. Install pins or bars on sliding doors to prevent them for being jiggled open or lifted off the running track. Don’t run extension cords through windows or doors that can make it difficult to tightly close and secure the window.

Hide the valuables. Keep valuable items out of sight from outside the house and, for goodness sake, the car. Consider a lock for the steering wheel for cars parked in the driveway or on the street. Don’t keep anything of value, especially spare keys, in those vehicles.

Hide spare keys with neighbors instead of in the yard. Leaving the spares beneath a flowerpot or rock is too easy. Leave the key with a trusted friend, neighbor or relative.

 and not outside.

Keep a lived-in look. Mow the lawn before you leave. Use automatic timers for holiday and interior lights. Leave a bathroom light on.

Be careful with the boxes. Consider not placing gifts under the tree before it is time for them to be open. Carefully cut the cardboard boxes they come in into sections so they aren’t recognizable. KPD will put out “burglar boxes” later this year to dispose of those boxes, check back for dates and locations.

Fight off the porch pirates. Do not schedule deliveries to your home when you will not be there. Major courier services like the postal service, UPS, FedEx and Amazon have lockers at various locations where your expected shipments can be held for pickup and some major department stores will allow you to schedule a pick-up time in store or at a location near you.

Keep the vacations off social media until you get home.  Keep your travel plans off your social media networks. Never post where you are going, when you are leaving, or when you will be back; you’re just advertising when you won’t be there.