Burglary risk rises near holidays

It’s a crime of opportunity, and one not always predictable. And, according to the Callaway County Sheriff’s Department, it is rare that a burglar knows who they are stealing from.

“Very seldom do they even know the address of the house they are burglarizing,” said Sgt. Clay Chism, of the Callaway County Sheriff’s Department. “They don’t know what they are going into the house to get. It is almost always a crime of opportunity.”

Burglary cases rise in winter when people have electronics in the home.

In fact, three items that top many gift lists, also top burglary lists.

“By trade, 365 days a year, jewelry, firearms and electronics are the three things burglars look for,” Chism said.

The Callaway County Sheriff’s Department has some tips on avoiding burglary.

“Have adequate lighting, adequate locks and adequate storage of items within the residence,” Chism said.

Leaving town for the holidays could also leave a home susceptible to burglary without the property owner planning, too.

“If you’re going to be gone for an extended amount of time, make sure your mail doesn’t pile up in your mailbox, or your papers pile up in the driveway,” he said. “It’s the number one sign the owner is not home. Also make sure you leave lights on at the residence at night. Have them on timers so they switch which lights are on or have a neighbor or family member come into your home and change which one is on.”

Snow can also be an indicator of an empty house.

“Have a neighbor go up and down your driveway to put tire tracks there so it looks like someone has been home,” Chism said. “If it snowed two days ago and there are no tire tracks in the driveway, to a burglar, no one is home.”

Chism doesn’t recommend hiding everything of value in a home, but he does recommend keeping some items safe.

“Firearms need to be in a locked safe in a quality safe, not one that two guys can pack out the front door,” he said. “If a person is going to invest in $10,000 worth of firearms, he needs to invest a couple thousand for a quality safe that’s a full-proof safe and can be bolted to a floor or something similar.”

And keeping them properly recorded is also important.

“Any electronics, firearms, jewelry, anything that can be identified by a serial number needs to be documented. We cannot enter stolen property into the nationwide system without a serial number,” he said. “And when you document those serial numbers, send that list somewhere else, send it to your lock box at the bank, send it to a family member. Don’t have that list at the house so they can steal your list with your items.”

Overall, according to Chism, it doesn’t matter if there are neighbors 500 feet away or 500 yards away, burglary risk can be high.

“Neighbors are the best police. We can literally drive by a house and Joe Burglar could be in the front yard and he waves at us. For all we know, Joe Burglar lives there and friendly deputy waves at him and he waved back,” he said. “We have no way of knowing who is in what houses. If we see two guys in ski masks coming out the front door with a big screen television, then that’s got the writing on the wall. Observant neighbors will know who does and does not belong at that house.”

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