Law enforcement offers post-holiday crime prevention tips
Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018
It’s the most wonderful time of the year — while Christmas is behind us, kids and adults are still relishing the toys and necessities Santa Claus might have brought down the chimney. In the post-holiday atmosphere, there are a number of opportunities for would be criminals to ruin the season.
According to Washington Director of Police and Fire Services Stacy Drakeford and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jim Vanlandingham, there are a number of easy tips area residents can follow to help protect their gifts from thieves.
LOCK ‘EM UP TIGHT
For many kids, a bicycle is the end-all-be-all of Christmas gifts. While these shiny new toys can bring hour of joy for a child, they can also be easy targets for opportunistic thieves if not properly secured. For parents and others who have already invested in a bicycle, a $10 bike lock can serve as enough of a deterrent to keep those gifts safe.
“All these new bicycles, they should make sure that they bring them indoors or lock them up in a building,” Drakeford said.
Big-dollar gifts bring big smiles on Christmas morning, but boxes left on the street corner may also make put a household in the crosshairs for burglary. Containers left behind from items like HDTVs, computers, game systems and other electronics are especially prone to catch thieves’ eyes.
“We’ve seen cases where people get a new game system and leave the boxes out by the roadway for the trash man to come pick it up,” Vanlandingham said. “That’s a telltale sign to a thief that there is that item inside the house if they want to break in. We’ve seen correlation between that and break-ins after Christmas. … You’re pretty much advertising what you’ve got that’s brand new in your house.”
Drakeford and Vanlandingham both recommend that residents break those boxes down and take them to the county landfill, rather than leaving them out for collection.
At this point, most people who interact with social media will have seen the videos — thieves caught on camera stealing packages from front porches. With gift cards and Christmas money burning holes in pockets throughout the country, many Americans will be purchasing items online in the coming weeks, having their hearts’ desires delivered to their doorsteps.
While Drakeford says Washington hasn’t had any reports of package theft during this holiday season, Vanlandingham confirmed that the BCSO has investigated a number of reports throughout the county. Without video surveillance, however, these crimes are nearly impossible to solve.
Drakeford said that he recommends scheduling delivery when someone will be at home, to a relative or having packages delivered to the workplace after making arrangements with the employer.
While following these simple tips can help prevent crime in your neighborhood, the National Neighborhood Watch offers the following crime-prevention tips:
- Add new items to your home inventory. Take photos or video of all items of value in your home and list each item’s make, model, serial number and other information.
- Engrave new items to help identify them in the event they are stolen.
- Be suspicious of unexpected sales calls or deliveries. Ask for identification.
- Be aware of scams that criminals commit to take advantage of people’s generosity during the holidays.
- Investigate charities before making donations. Ask how the funds will be used.