Thursday, November 3, 2011
Burglaries rise; take precautions
By SUE WATSON
There was an average of three home or business burglaries each week in Holly Springs from July 13-October 20, according to reports from the police department.
During that period when 40 were reported, two arrests were made for burglary. Although the majority of burglaries were residential, five were at commercial businesses.
A summary of locations where burglaries occurred and frequency of burglaries during these 13 weeks includes – Van Dorn Avenue, seven; South Chesterman Street, five; East College Avenue, three; West Street, two; Martin Luther King Drive, two; N. Maury, one; Hill Street, one; Rust Avenue, one; Sam Coopwood Park, one; Swaney Drive, one; Craft Street, one; N. Memphis Street, one; Highway 7 South, one; McMillan Drive, one; Hudsonville Road, one; Chatham Heights, one; W. Woodward, one; Salem Avenue, one; Shelby Drive, one; N. Randolph, one; Highway 178, one.
Interim police chief John Norman said he thinks most of the burglaries in Holly Springs are committed by juveniles who are skipping school.
Last week three juveniles were picked up in connection with a recent burglary, he said.
“A lot of times they have several burglaries they have committed,” he said.
Norman reminds homeowners to lock their doors, watch their street for juveniles or other people who seem out of place, and to call the police to come investigate, if anything looks unusual.
“Alarm systems are great, but they are not the cure-all,” he said.
Norman said he believes alarm systems are a deterrent, and the would-be burglars will move on to a softer target if he or she sees the alarm company’s sign in the yard or window.
He also said dead bolts that reach two inches into the door frame are useful because the door cannot be kicked in so easily. Homeowners should trim their hedges in front of windows so burglars have nothing to hide behind, he said.
With Christmas season coming up, Norman said parents should record serial numbers on bicycles and other items and etch their initials or some secret number that they will write down and remember on items, so when police recover items, they will be identifiable.
Should a parent turn a child in?
Norman said if a parent suspects their child has an item they could not have paid for themselves, parents should question the child.
“If you find out something may have been stolen, bring them in to the police department,” he said.
Stopping stealing early can turn the child around and keep the child from becoming an habitual criminal, he said.
But Marshall County Sheriff Kenny Dickerson said most arrests his department makes for burglary are not juveniles, although sometimes youth as old as 17 may be involved.
He said most burglars do not know their victims or where they work.
“Going on arrests we have made, it’s very few theft-related arrests for school children,” he said. “Most of our break-in related arrests will be adults, quite often people 17 to 20 years of age. Seventeen and older are tried as adults. For the few youngsters 13 and older, they are usually handled first through youth court.”
He said the vast majority of times, break-ins are for items that can be quickly sold cheaply for drug money. A lot of cell phones are pawned off in Memphis, Tenn., he said. And a lot of theft involves televisions, jewelry, stuff that is quick and easy to move as hot items.
“This time of year, portable deer stands are a big item reported taken right from the woods,” Dickerson said.
Another easy mark for thieves this time of year are four-wheelers with the keys left in them and parked in front of the house or in the yard and easily visible from the road, he said. Weapons are also a favorite item to rip off during hunting season. Dickerson said owners should record the serial numbers of hunting guns and anything else that has a number on it and place the list in a safe place in case thieves do raid a house or property. Those numbers make it possible for law enforcement to find stolen items that show up in pawn shops or when they are recovered from a sting.
Jerry Shaw of Potts Camp, who has a home security alarm business, said he thinks thieves have a way of blending in to steal from a home in broad daylight.
“The thieves have a normal routine,” he said. “You think they are doing an every-day thing when actually they are surveilling your home waiting for the opportunity. They learn your routine.”
Shaw said when stopped the would-be thief gives a good alibi, saying they were just looking for the person who lived there. Neighbors noticing something out of the ordinary don’t want to get involved.
“If they see something, they should report it right away,” he said. “People don't think they are there to steal, especially in a town this size, but they are.”
The person who burglarizes your home could be someone you have had doing yard work or something.
He said people should form a neighborhood watch and take turns watching their street. Another suggestion is to change your routine, he said.
“If you usually turn out of the drive to the left, turn out to the right. Take a different route home. Talk to your neighbor and say, ‘I’ll watch your house if you'll watch mine.’”
A burglary can get dangerous if the thief thinks no one is home and then find someone home. Shaw said that is a situation that can turn into a rape or killing, because it messes up the plan of the thief and the thief gets rattled.
Another big tip is to not announce travel plans on Facebook or other social media sites. And have someone come over to pick up the mail and check your home daily while you are away.
Keep valuables locked in a gun cabinet or safety box and record all serial numbers so you will have serial numbers ready for authorities, if your place is robbed while you are away.
He also recommends a burglar alarm.
“Everybody knows it won't keep them from breaking in, but it will notify authorities and you have a better chance of catching them and keeping your valuables,” Shaw said.
Right now burglars are looking for guns, and easy to sell items like iPods, video games, and cell phones or iPhones, he said.
“They are after just a few bucks, if it is not drug-related. Kids are doing it just for mischief.”
But most break-ins are to support a drug habit, he said.
Anyone interested in putting in a burglar alarm should know that most insurance companies offer up to a 20 percent discount on homeowners insurance for installing an alarm, deadbolt locks or smoke detectors. Customers need to ask their agent, since most agents do not volunteer that information, he said.
In the case of autos, people should lock their autos and not leave valuables in plain sight in the car, Shaw said.
Besides a security alarm, customers can install video cameras and the company will post security alarm signs to let the thief know the property is protected.
“A burglar alarm can go off and save your life, especially if the alarm goes off and scares the thief,” he said.
In 22 years in the business, Shaw said he has had only one customer actually have the security alarm go off due to burglary. In that case, it went off, the neighbor was on the call list and got the tag number and an arrest was made.
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