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Police: Putting boxes for gifts in the curbside trash makes you a target for thieves

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WEST HARTFORD -- State Police are issuing a warning to all the lucky gift recipients out there: be careful what you put in the trash.

As you clean up your gift boxes from Hanukkah, Christmas and other holidays, it's important to remember to not let the labels show.

For example, let's say you got a big screen Samsung TV. Police recommend breaking the box down so that the "Samsung" label isn't in plain sight while sitting in your trashcan on the curb. That way, you're not alerting thieves to the new big-ticket items in your house.

"Unfortunately there are people that drive around through neighborhoods looking to see what's out there and waiting for you to leave, go inside and take those gifts off of your hands," explained State Police Trooper Kelly Grant.

"Don't advertise to thieves what you've received, what's in your home," Grant added.

Many people have no idea that throwing out the trash can be such a risk.

Mike Sweeney, a West Hartford dad and homeowner, said his family was aware of the risk of having packages left at the front door, and made sure to be careful of that this year. "We made a conscious effort when the UPS guy came to quickly put boxes, or if they were lying on someone's front doorstep we'd put them in the back."

But he had no idea about the risks for after opening the packages.

"I honestly thought it would be safe," he told FOX 61 after putting out the boxes for his son's new lacrosse shaft and air guitar set on the curb. Now, he says thanks to the tip from FOX 61, he knows that's another concern he needs to address for future gifts.

So how do you clean up and keep yourself safe at the same time?

"Break those boxes down. If you can't fit them into your recycling bins or they're too big, your recycling bin is full, leave them in your house until its recycling day, but leave them out of sight," Grant said.

Those TV boxes we were talking about are the biggest risk; closely followed by boxes for gaming systems like PlayStation 4 or new computers.

Amazon also has devised a way to put your leftover boxes to good use.