BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – Families across the Panhandle will wake up on Christmas morning and open presents, but officials are warning you not to throw that trash on the curb of your home.

Once you tear away the wrapping paper underneath, there is typically a box securing your present.

“TVs, computers, other electronic equipment,” Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said.

For some, they toss those boxes away, clearing the way for family Christmas meals— but officials said that is not the wisest idea. It may create a target for theft.

“Once you place those large boxes out by the garbage bin, that’s an advertisement of what you’ve just received,” Ruth Corley, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, said.

It acts as an invitation for criminals to enter your home and take those new items for themselves.

“Err on the side of caution,” Sheriff Smith said. “Get rid of those boxes and take them to the recycling locations near you.”

For Franklin County, those locations are Apalachicola, Eastpoint, St. George and Carrabelle.

“Not only does it prevent criminals, but it makes the neighborhood look a lot better without a bunch of boxes for two or three days out on the curb,” Smith said.

Sheriff Smith said if you have boxes just like these and you are living in a county without recyclable service, compact the boxes and put them into a large garbage bag so they aren’t sitting open outside of your house.

“Otherwise, you want to keep them in the house for a few days,” Corley said. “You maybe want to take them to a dumpster if you know someone that has one at their home.”

Both the Franklin and Bay County Sheriff’s Offices said it is not too late to be added to their ‘Holiday Home Safety Patrol’ list.

“It’s pretty simple… if somebody is there, and they have no good reason for being there, then they are probably going to be arrested for loitering and prowling, trespassing or something like that,” Smith said.

Another tip: if you are not going to be home for the holidays, lock up. Do not allow criminals to make you a victim.

Sheriff Smith said do not make it obvious you’re leaving town. One way to do so is not to post those great pictures of your trip on social media until after you return home.