By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Families will travel across town and across the country this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, often leaving their homes vulnerable to burglars.
Law enforcement authorities often see an increase in residential break-ins during the holiday season.
“We see an increase in burglaries, particularly in rental properties,” Starkville Police Chief David Lindley said. “As it gets closer to Christmas, some people don’t have the ability to secure presents and get gifts, so they resort to theft, and that can cross a number of geographic areas.”
Many Mississippi State University students have gone home for Thanksgiving break, leaving behind a lot of empty apartments and houses throughout Starkville, but both the SPD and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department will be keeping a special watch on those properties.
“We will be stepping up our patrol. We will be checking the apartment complexes regularly while the students are out of town for a few days,” Sheriff Dolph Bryan said.
There are several ways to safe guard your home while your away, many of which make it appear as if you’ve never left. Asking a neighbor to collect your mail and newspaper will prevent it from piling up — a sign for potential burglars that no one is home. Lindley also suggests putting timers on the lights inside the home.
Bryan said homes and apartments should be well-secured before leaving town, and travelers should take any valuables with them when they leave.
“Electronics, money, jewelry and guns are what people are looking for when they break in,” he said. “If someone has a big cache of guns if they’re a hunter, I would advise that they take them with them.”
Another preventative is the vacation home check service offered by the Starkville Police Department.
“All they have to do is come by and fill out a form with contact information and how long they’ll be gone, and we’ll check their home while they’re gone once a day,” Lindley said. “We’ve had that service for quite some time and it’s proven to be effective.”
Even if you are staying in town this holiday season, it is important to stay alert and on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.
“The main thing we need to do is have people report any suspicious activity. A lot of times people see something that they feel is not right, but they don’t say anything. What they’re seeing is a crime being committed but they don’t realize it,” Lindley said.