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MINNEAPOLIS - This Christmas, the Ottum family in Minneapolis hope for peace on earth and peace in their home.

"You feel violated," says Jason Ottum. "This is your house, this is your home."

One year ago, their home was broken into. Burglars made off with thousands of dollars of items including more than a dozen wrapped gifts from under their Christmas tree. Following that incident, the Ottum family installed new doors and a security system.

"We also make sure we close the blinds when we leave," he says. "We don't want people looking in and taking stock of what we have."

This weekend, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department released a list of tips for homeowners.

* Don't openly display your Christmas tree and gifts in the window so it's easily visible. A burglar could smash the window and grab the packages.

* If you are away on a trip, ask a neighbor to help create a "lived in" look for your home. Use a light timer when you are away and ask a neighbor to keep the front of your home clean of papers and debris. A neighbor could even park a car on your driveway.

* Don't hide spare keys under rocks, in flowerpots, or above door ledges. Instead give the spare key to a trusted neighbor.

* Don't announce that you are out-of-town on social media sites. Post your vacation photos on facebook when you return from your out-of-town visit.

* After the holidays, don't have an outdoor garbage pile of empty gift boxes from your new computer, big screen TV, and other electronics. Tear up the boxes and dispose of them in a manner where they are not on display.

* Install solid core doors, heavy duty locks, longer screws in the lock strike plates and door hinges, and install secondary security devices.

* Secure needed prescription medicine in a safe place. Painkillers are a target for theft and illegal sales. Any medicine that is not needed should be disposed of properly. Go towww.hennepin.us for disposal sites.

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