The holiday season is well under way and thieves are planning their Christmas shopping expeditions the same as you are. The difference is you’re paying for the gifts you plan on giving where the thieves are looking for an opportunity to take them away from you.

There are several things you can do to keep your property safe so don’t let yourself be an easy target. We’ve already started our extra patrols out in the county and we’re noticing too many gates left unclosed and unlocked when people aren’t at home. We’re seeing lawn mowers and ATVs left out in plain view and all sorts of things of values left unsecured to where someone can easily make off with them. At some of these locations, there aren’t even dogs around to help keep the thieves away.

Criminals don’t think anything of spoiling someone else’s Christmas, so don’t let yours be the one that’s impacted. I can’t stress it enough to secure your gates and personal property. If you’re going to be away for any length of time, let your neighbors know so they can help keep an eye out – and you keep an eye out for your neighbors as well. I’ll keep saying it: Know your neighbors and their usual activity so you know when something’s not looking right at their place.

We’ve talked before about making sure you track any packages you’ve got coming in and being there when they arrive – or having them held at the post office or dropped off at a trusted neighbor’s. Keep doing that and if you see suspicious activity going on, let us know. If it’s an emergency situation, call 9-1-1; if you want to call our non-emergency dispatch, that number is 972-937-6060. You help us more than you know when you’re serving as our extra eyes and ears out in the county.

Your sheriff’s office has extra patrols scheduled through the holiday season. We’re here to protect and serve you. If you have any questions about what you can do to better secure your property, feel free to contact our Crime Prevention deputies at 972-937-6060.

Please, everyone, let’s keep our military and service personnel in our thoughts and prayers. We enjoy our rights and freedoms because of their service and safekeeping of our great nation. Y’all have a Blessed Week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.