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4 Crime-Stopping Reminders for the Fall

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Conventional wisdom has it that summer is the "high crime" season, and there is evidence to back that up. Heat makes desperate people even more aggressive, and criminals are usually more active when the weather is warmer, primarily because they may stay outside later.

In addition, teen crime is up when school is out, and more kids looking for trouble are outdoors well into the evening.

But just because summer is over doesn't mean you should let your guard down.

New data from Master Lock, a Milwaukee consumer security company, says crime is still a threat when autumn rolls around, mostly because it gets dark earlier and criminals can operate under the cover of night.

"With busy schedules and back-to-back school activities, it's important for families to remember to keep safety and security a priority," says Rebecca Smith, a vice president at Master Lock. "Now that school year routines are established, it's a perfect time to address safety topics with your family, such as guidelines for social media use and getting to and from home safely."

Here is what Master Lock and Smith advise:

Know where you are -- and avoid being alone. With the sun going down earlier and more kids walking home from after-school activities, make sure kids (and any commuters in the family making their way home from work) stay in well-lit areas and travel with a companion. Most criminals target individuals and shy away from robbing people walking in groups.

Have a "home alone" strategy. With more and more parents working, especially in later hours, kids tend to be home by themselves. Criminals know this and may try to take advantage of "home alone" kids. Besides installing a good security system ( this website ranks the best), it's important to establish guidelines for home-alone children. At the top of that list is to make sure the kids lock the door immediately after getting home; don't answer the door if strangers come calling; and have an exit strategy in case a criminal breaches the house.

Be firm about social media sharing. Parents who are lenient about their kids' social media habits could be inviting trouble. Master Lock says that personal, private data, such as photos and location, raise the risk of being victimized if those items fall into the wrong hands.

Keep valuables in a secure safe. Even after taking all of the above security measures, keep your valuables out of reach of criminals with a safe. This website reviews the best safes on the market, with prices starting as low as $45.

Don't take your family's safety for granted just because you think summer's higher crime rate has passed. The colder, darker months bring unique threats of their own, so take special caution to stay safe this fall.

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