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Step up security measures during upcoming holidays

Posted: November 22, 2011 8:43 a.m.
Updated: November 23, 2011 5:00 a.m.

It seems that during the Christmas and Thanksgiving season property crimes increase. Maybe it’s because thieves realize that people are shopping for Christmas gifts that will be kept in homes. We have also seen a recent rise in housebreakings, mostly in the rural areas. As is often the case, thieves steal guns, TVs, stereos, computers, tools, etc.

Frequently, these thieves are drug addicts who steal to support their habits. Just so you will know, we are putting enormous pressure on our drug dealing community. We are already hearing feedback that many of the drug dealers are moving elsewhere, where the pressure on them is not so high. Unfortunately, in some cases people who break into our homes do this for a living. I want to take this opportunity to give you a few tips to help reduce your risk and to also help us if you are the victim of a break-in.

First and most importantly, record the serial number, make and model of all your firearms. This is critical in helping us solve your break-in. Far too many people have numerous firearms and have no corresponding serial numbers. If we catch a thief with your stolen gun and you could not provide us with the serial number so that we could enter it into the national database, he will likely walk. The same goes with TVs, computers, DVD players, basically anything that has a serial number. Take the time to write down the make, model and serial number of everything that has one. You will be glad you did if they are stolen. I cannot emphasize this enough.

Secondly, invest in a security system with a reputable company. Interior cameras will not prevent a beak-in, but they may help us identify the thief. Game cameras can also be placed around outbuildings that might be able to record an image of the offender. Locked doors and windows generally do not deter a determined thief, but an alarm system may scare them off and will alert authorities to the situation. Hopefully, we will have a deputy near enough to respond in a timely manner.

If someone you don’t know comes to your home, knocks on the door and offers to do some type of work, refuse to let them in and don’t let them do the work for you, especially if it will involve them coming into your residence. Frequently, a thief will knock on a door to see if anyone is at home. If no one comes to the door they will break in. If, however, a resident comes to the door, they will come up with some type of lame excuse for them being there and will leave. Jot down their tag number, vehicle description and their description. Then call the dheriff’s office. That information might be just the tip we need to solve one or more break-ins.

I hope some of these suggestions will help you not be victimized. Some of these suggestions will help you and some will ultimately help us. Let’s work together to make the Thanksgiving and Christmas season a blessed time for the good folks in our county.

(Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews provided this column to the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C.)

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