Help sought in prevention of burglaries

Published 6:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2009

With burglaries, home invasions and automobile break-ins on therise, local officials are looking to the public to not only helplaw enforcement, but help themselves keep crime down.

“The problem we’re having is that people leave their valuablesout in the open,” Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said. “Youcan’t go leaving your valuable property out in the open likethat.”

Henderson and Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said many ofthe thefts and burglaries in that usually ramp up around theholiday season are crimes of opportunity. People can protectthemselves by doing simple little things, Rushing said.

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“Keep your houses and cars locked, that helps to a point,” hesaid. “Put the stuff that people can see out of sight. If they cansee a 4-wheeler out, they may try to take it.”

Henderson said the main problem with vehicle burglaries is thatthieves will see a purse or other object laying on the seat, andit’s easy to take it from there.

“They’ll just smash a window if they can see something sittingout in the open,” he said. “If you don’t want to get robbed, atleast make it difficult for them to find your things.”

And during holiday shopping, this becomes even more important,Rushing said.

“During the holiday season, you need to keep your packages withyou,” he said. “If you’re on a shopping trip and you have to putthem in your car, try to keep them out of sight by putting them inthe trunk or something.”

Officials assert that not just home and auto break-ins, buttheft in general is on the rise during the final months of theyear. It’s up to citizens to be vigilant to protect theirbelongings.

“It usually gets worse right now,” Rushing said, adding that theeconomy doesn’t always make a difference on the crime rate duringChristmas time. “This will be one of our biggest seasons of theyear, and I couldn’t tell you if the economy will affect it at thispoint.”

Henderson said he doesn’t believe the economy has anything to dowith it.

“You have to understand, the holidays are coming up and it’s notgoing to get any better until we get help from the community,” hesaid. “I don’t feel like the economy has anything to do with this,when people are told time and time again that people are walkingaround waiting to prey on people who leave their valuablesout.”

And while it should be an easier world to live in, especiallyduring the season of hope, that’s just not how society alwaysworks, Henderson said.

“You should be able to trust people and leave your things out,but this world is not made like that,” he said. “We’re patrollingeverywhere we can, but we need the citizens to decide to help.”

Rushing said an inventory can also help people when they areburglarized.

“Get the serial numbers off your stuff like guns and computersand TVs, that’s a big help,” he said. “And we will obviously try topatrol as much as we can between calls, but this is our biggestseason in general as far as call-wise.”

Like Henderson, Rushing suggested citizens take theoffensive.

“Be more proactive, check out suspicious things,” he said. “Ifyou see someone in a vehicle you don’t know, call us and let uscheck it out. Also, keep an eye on your neighbor’s house.”