MIAMI (CBSMiami) –The holidays bring about massive shopping, big lines and for some South Florida residents – home break-ins.

With a rise in burglaries at this time of year, deputies from the Broward Sheriff’s Office will be leaving a message on homeowners’ doors urging them to “Lock up, look out and call 911 when strangers appear.”

“It’s the holidays, and there’s a traditional spike in burglaries,” Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti told CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.  “The burglars know people have gone out and bought things of value that are in their houses.”

While violent crime has not gone up this year, Lamberti’s agency has seen a 20 percent rise in home break-in.

Many of the burglaries have been committed by crooks using the “knock and wait” method,Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Travis Mandell told the paper.

In a “knock and wait” burglary, a person will dress like a handyman, florist or a salesman and ring the bell between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  If someone does not respond, the burglar will attempt to get into the house through an open window or sliding glass door. If someone does answer, the burglar will pretend they have the wrong address and find an unoccupied home.

In other instances, thieves will distract the homeowners while their residences are burglarized.   The most recent “distraction burglary” happened in Deerfield Beach on Dec. 6, when elderly woman answered her door to find a man standing there who said her son-in-law had sent him to do lawn work.   While the woman took the man to her backyard, the man’s partner got in through the unlocked from door and stole her jewelry.

Broward residents are urged to be on their guard, especially at this time of year, so a Grinch won’t steal their Christmas.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)


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