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Police: Protect yourself by preventing burglary this holiday season

Rex Barber • Nov 20, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Burglary is more common this time of year but there are ways to prevent becoming a victim, according to Johnson City police.

“Around this time of year, starting with the holiday shopping season, right before Black Friday, we see an upswing in various crimes, and most of those involving theft or burglary,” said Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois.

A quick review of police reports in Johnson City revealed that between 12:01 a.m. Monday and mid-morning Tuesday nine reports had been filed about auto or home burglaries.

Police officers can not be everywhere, so Sirois encouraged people to “harden the target,” meaning to take precautions to prevent becoming a victim of crime in the first place.

Locked doors are the first deterrent to any would-be thief, Sirois said.

Sirois said many auto burglaries are committed because of an unlocked door.

But a locked door will not prevent someone breaking the window to get at a purse or a cell phone or other valuables. Sirois encouraged people to make sure valuables are not in plain sight so criminals will not have a target of opportunity. Anything of value should be placed in the trunk or glove box.

“If it’s unlocked, it’s gone,” he said. “But it’s a simple matter for someone to take an instrument of some type, smash the window, get the purse and be gone... .”

Sirois said sometimes during the busy holidays people may think they can leave valuables in their cars to run into a store for just a minute, but it only takes a minute for someone to burglarize a car.

“Just that one minute can make the difference between going home at the end of your shopping trip happy or coming out and finding out that your car’s been broken into and your valuables are gone,” Sirois said.

Another tip is to park in an area with good lighting and that is in a visible place when shopping. Sirois said this ensures thieves will be less likely to target your car and also gives you a less hazardous walk to and from the store.

Also try to go shopping in groups or try to wait for a group when walking out of a store to return to your vehicle.

Valuables in the home are a common target for thieves, too. Sirois said be sure to lock all home doors but also create the appearance someone is inside, even when no one is.

“Leave your lights on when you’re gone at night,” he said. “During the day I would suggest that you leave a light on. Give every appearance that someone is home.”

He also said be a nosy neighbor. If something does not look right at the house next door, call 911, Sirois said. This could prevent a crime.

“I like the neighborhood watch approach where you have a nosy neighbor,” he said.

Do not be afraid to call 911 to report any crime or suspicious activity, Sirois said.

“If something looks funny to you, you know, we’re here 24/7. Call 911 and we’ll come out and check it if something doesn’t look quite right to you.”

Besides calling 911, authorities can be reached by calling Crime Stoppers at 423-434-6158, or through the police department’s tip line by texting 423JCPD and your tip to 847411 (TIP411).

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