MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Because of all of those post-present boxes, the days and weeks after Christmas are a busy time for burglars.

Police tell us criminals target houses where empty TV and electronic boxes can be seen from the road.

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St. Paul Police has a new program that aims to ensure homeowners — not burglars — are the only ones who will enjoy those new Christmas gifts.

It’s the time of year we all dream about what will be left under the Christmas tree for us — a new TV, new phone or other electronics. It’s also the time of year where criminals watch to see what boxes you leave behind to be recycled, so they know what to look for when they break into your home.

Officer Rob Zink says thieves drive by looking for clues as to what’s on the inside of your home by the boxes you leave on the outside.

“They drive up and down the alley after Christmas looking, and they take note of addresses,” Zink said. “Whether they’re going to come back in a day, come back in a week, or come back in three months, they know exactly what’s in the house now.”

Crime Prevention Specialist Pam McCreary says it’s hard to keep track of the number of houses affected by this crime of opportunity.

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“We have a lot of burglaries where they say, ‘I just got this for Christmas. We just got this laptop. We just got this camera equipment. We just got this TV,'” McCreary said.

SPPD came up with a plan to help reduce these holiday burglaries.

“Rather than put it on the curb to wait for curb recycling to pick it up or in their trash, we have a recycling container in the parking lot at Western District [SPPD Offices],” McCreary said. “People can drop off their cardboard 24/7, until Jan. 8.”

McCreary hopes resident take matters into their own hands by making a trip to drop off those boxes and stop giving thieves a heads up on what is inside their homes.

The recycling bin is located in the west end of the visitors lots outside the Western District Headquarters on Hamline Avenue.

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St. Paul Police is partnering with the city of St. Paul and it’s all in recycling program to provide this free service.

Reg Chapman