By JB Clark
TUPELO – ‘Tis the season for broken car windows and stolen Christmas presents.
As Northeast Mississippians prepare for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, law enforcement agencies are gearing up for increased enforcement during a time when burglaries traditionally increase.
Tupelo Police Deputy Chief Allan Gilbert said as people begin Christmas shopping and preparing for the holidays, they get in a hurry and criminals take advantage of that.
“People go shop in these expensive stores and then leave the bags in the car,” Gilbert said. “They know there is something good in the bag and they’ll break the window to get inside.”
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said carelessness at home also can lead to home burglaries.
“It happens a lot after Thanksgiving,” he said. “Folks will order online and we’ve caught some folks who watched delivery trucks and then went into the houses they delivered to and stole Christmas presents.”
In 2012, Tupelo Police worked 57 home, auto and commercial burglaries during November compared to the 43 in February.
The significant majority of burglaries in each of those months were home burglaries.
Tupelo Police Maj. Jackie Clayton said shoppers should also be careful about who they tell about their purchases.
“Don’t get on social media and talk about what all you’ve bought or what all you have in the house or got for Christmas,” he said. “Folks will see that, and they’ll come visit.”
Johnson said the same rule stands after Christmas.
“Out on the road, next to your garbage can, are TV boxes, toy boxes, jewelry boxes, Xbox boxes. People know that item is probably going to be in the house. Try to dispose of those boxes some other way or compress them into a bag so they can’t be seen,” Johnson said.
Gilbert stressed leaving cars locked isn’t enough.
“We had a Crime Stoppers report of a woman in Fulton who left her purse in the seat of her car,” Gilbert said. “The burglars saw the purse and broke into the car, took the purse and used all of her credit cards. They also popped the trunk and took all of her Christmas presents. Be aware and make sure all of your valuables are out of sight.”
Keeping curtains closed while no one is home and wrapping empty boxes to put under the tree will similarly help prevent home burglaries Johnson said, adding that he has seen families have all of their presents robbed the week before Christmas.
Each department will have an increased patrol presence during the holiday season. Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said they are setting up mobile command centers at high-traffic shopping areas to keep an eye our for auto burglars. They will also have an increased patrol presence in neighborhoods.