SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Scanning homes street by street, it didn't take long before Officer Zackary Robbins from the Santa Maria Police Department spotted several houses that had a 'Merry Little Christmas' but their troubles weren't out of sight.
"[Those boxes] lead a potential burglar to believe you have a brand new TV in your house and if that's something they're interested in, you could be opening yourself up to being targeted," Officer Robbins explained.
Thieves didn't take a break this Christmas in Santa Maria. Officers apprehended a man they thought robbed a gas station Monday afternoon in a similar fashion to a repeat alleged criminal from earlier this week.
"We've had a couple strong-arm robberies over the past couple days at some Subway stores and then we had this one that just occurred. The description sounded similar to the one from a couple days ago so we thought it could possibly be the same person," Robbins said.
But that person turned out to still be on the loose. Officer Robbins says there are ways to protect your home from these alleged thieves at large, telling us: "Some of the best tips I would say is maybe try to break up the boxes. Once you break them down, get them into a garbage container and keep them in the garage or some place out of view until you can make a trip to the dump or anything like that."
If you plan on making some online returns or ordering more items, Officer Robbins suggests keeping an eye on your tracking numbers and asking your neighbors for help.
"If you have neighbors that are home during the day that you can say: "Hey, I'm expecting this package is there any way you can help me out and put it in your house or put it in the backyard?" Just anything you can do to try to get them off the porch as soon as possible," Robbins said.