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Officials urge awareness to holiday crimes

The holidays are a time for togetherness and fun but they can also be a time for would-be thieves to take advantage of others.
According to area law enforcement, the timeframe leading up to Christmas and immediately after can be a time where crimes such as thefts and burglaries occur more often because of the expectation that homes are full of electronics and other expensive gifts that have been purchased as Christmas presents. It’s also a popular time for these types of crimes because burglars try take advantage of the fact that many people are out of town around the holidays and they would be less likely to get caught.
Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said the best thing to do to prevent these crimes from happening is to employ neighborhood watches.
“If you and your family are planning to be out of town for the holidays, tell a couple of neighbors that you can trust when you’ll be leaving and when you’ll be getting back so they’ll know to watch for any suspicious activity,” Oliver said.
“That way if a car or truck is at your home that shouldn’t be there or if anyone is seen walking around your property, your neighbors can alert the proper authorities and hopefully prevent your home from being broken into.”
But residential thefts aren’t the only ones that take place at this time of year.
Business break-ins and vehicle thefts are also elevated during this time frame.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), date from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) shows that more vehicle thefts occurred on New Year’s Day in 2011 than on any other official holiday with 2,286 vehicles reported stolen.
The NICB said drivers should be alert, which includes parking in well-lit areas, keeping packages in the trunk or out of sight, and making sure vehicles are locked and alarm systems are on while they are parked.
Potter added that, around the home, residents should also be aware of their surroundings.
“The best thing to do is just be prepared,” Oliver said, “And if you see anything suspicious in your area, don’t hesitate to call law enforcement.”
The sheriff’s office can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 256-332-8820.