HONOLULU (KHON2) — Many are already planning their holiday trips as the end of the year quickly approaches, but police said beware as this is also the time when thieves could take advantage of houses sitting empty. 

Makiki resident Paul Klink believes you can never be too safe, a key and code are needed to enter his front door and once inside, another coded lock door protects his bedroom. 

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Klink said, “We use it to get in so that nobody could get through this easily.”

He takes the security of his home and his neighbors seriously. Shortly before the pandemic, Klink was well on his way to starting a neighborhood watch group and those plans are picking up steam once again as crime concerns grow among residents. 

Klink said, “A lot of buildings in this area have been seeing crime at night time, in their parking garages, we’ve heard of people in other buildings coming home to people in their homes.”

Police officials said homeowners could take steps to prevent criminals from entering their properties, such as getting to know neighbors who can help keep an eye on each other’s homes. 

Hawaii County Police Department Officer Tyler Jelsma said burglaries usually spike during the holidays when people typically visit family on other islands or states, but that upward trend started earlier this year. 

Jelsma said, “There was a decent increase in burglaries that were reported in the district of Hilo. So there were actually 16 reported burglaries in the month of September. And usually, we see around 10.”

The Hawaii County Police Department said those who are planning on leaving town for the holidays, should make sure their doors and windows are locked. 

Homeowners could also leave at least one outdoor and indoor light on, as well as a radio playing, making it not obvious the home is alone.

Jelsma said it also helps to have someone mow the lawn and pick up mail to prevent it from piling up. 

Jelsma said, “Pretty much want to look like there’s somebody’s home.”

All county police departments have neighborhood watch programs, those interested in joining can contact their local police departments for information. 

Klink said neighbors are more likely to be the first to notice when something is not right. 

He said, “We are used to seeing what is normal so we are more apt to notice something that isn’t.”

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Police said those who fall victim to a home burglary should not touch or move items around the home and call 911 immediately.