BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It could happen in your neighborhood tonight. There's been a recent spike in residential burglaries along the coast, both home and car break-ins.
But while burglaries are the most common property crime reported, they're also largely preventable
Too often, thieves have an open invitation: You leave your house or car unlocked or leave home with the garage door wide open.
Since burglary is often a crime of opportunity, your job is to make that opportunity more difficult.
Home burglars pick and choose their targets in a neighborhood. Rule number one: Don't make it easy.
"In my career, I've arrested suspects that have gone into people's houses that were left open. And the people didn't even know they'd been burglarized until we've gone back and said, 'Are you missing this? Missing this item?'" D'Iberville Police Chief Wayne Payne said.
Burglars don't like attention. Barking dogs and home alarm systems are wise prevention choices.
"Burglars aren't looking to make a lot of noise. They don't want people to know they're there. So, anything that makes noise, you have a dog or something like that, that's also a good deterrent," said Spurgeon Crosby with the Biloxi Police Department.
Thieves also shy away from lights.
"They want to stay invisible. And when you have motion lights outside your house, or a porch light on, those sorts of things will startle them and deter them from committing the crime," Chief Payne said.
While lights are important, landscaping is also a consideration.
"With your landscaping around your house, you don't want tall bushes, weeds growing around your house, near where people can hide behind those and break out a window," says Officer Crosby.
And here's a tip for Facebook lovers and other social network users: don't advertise you're going on vacation.
"Some people have their personal information and where they live. A burglar looks in the phone book and sees who's out of town and finds that person's address and goes to that house and easy pickings for them," said Crosby.
One of the easiest and most effective burglary prevention tips is get to know your neighbors. They can be an extra set of eyes to watch your property when you're not at home.
"We can all be better neighbors by looking out for each other. By seeing that suspicious activity and taking time to pick that phone up and call," says Chief Payne.
Once you get to know your next door neighbors, you can look out for each others' homes when you're on vacation.
Also, don't forget to stop the mail and newspaper if you go out of town. Papers piling up in a driveway and an overflowing mail box are invitations to burglary.