Tips for safely disposing of holiday trash

MILWAUKEE -- You may be busy unpacking and enjoying some new Christmas gifts, but the holiday trash you leave behind could be an open invitation to unwanted intruders! Police say you should think before you throw away that holiday trash, to avoid becoming a victim of theft.

TVs, stereos and furniture all come in big boxes that take up a lot of space, but the way you dispose of those boxes could make your home a target for those looking for an easy steal. Ricky Buchanan knows first hand what it's like to be a victim of property theft. "When I was little, my mom and I were burglarized, so I am just really cautious. I don't care how big the box is. If it's a 50 inch TV, I still break it down in the house, and throw it in the garbage, put it in trash bags," Buchanan said.

Police say the easiest thing you can do, is not leaving those boxes out in plain sight! "You're basically just putting a big sign in front of your house that says 'I've got a new TV. Please come into my house and steal it,'" Milwaukee Police Lieutenant Jeff Point said. Police also suggest removing all labels from boxes, folding boxes in between other unmarked boxes, and not putting trash in clear plastic bags.

Police say you should also not leave your trash bins sitting out too long, because people can and will search them. "They drive around, looking for this kind of thing. They're kind of like the Grinch that stole Christmas, and unlike the Grinch, these people are not going to have a change of heart and bring your things back," Lt. Point said.

Buchanan says he agrees that improperly disposing of holiday trash is a mistake that happens far too often. "I just tell people, break down the box. It might take some time, but it'll save you some money in the end," Buchanan said.

Another important step you can take to guard yourself against a potential theft is to double check your street's garbage collection times. The schedule may be off due to the holidays. If you're looking to be even more cautious, dispose of your holiday trash at the nearest recycling drop-off site.