Protect yourself from holiday crime

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX)- From shopping to parties, holidays could be the busiest time of the year.  When you leave your house during this time of year, you may have too many things on your mind to worry about who could be lurking just around the corner.

"You just arent as aware during the holidays as normally you may be," said Gautier Police Department's Crime Prevention Officer Tommy Fortenberry.

That attitude costs people thousands of dollars in stolen belongings every holiday season.  Criminals prey on this time of year, when people are off guard, and are likely to have extra desirable items lying around the house.

"During the holidays, people buy alot of presents for the children and things like that, and that's enticing to the criminals and so they break in and steal the Christmas gifts," Fortenberry said.  "They know there are things under the tree that are valuable."

But there are ways to keep crooks from targetting you while you're out.  Fortenberry inspected a home, and discussed its level of security.  He also gave some pointers for how to make it safer.  This service is part of the Neighborhood Watch Program offered by the Gautier Police Department.

"You look for hedges or anything for them to hide behind when you come up to the door to unlock it," he said about the perimeter of the house.  "This house doesn't have any high hedges or anything for them to hide behind."

That's good.  The burglar alarm is even better, especially when there's a corresponding warning sign in the front yard.

"Once this door opens, and these separate from each other like two magnets, a north and a south pole of the magnet, this will cause the alarm to go off," Fortenberry explained about the alarm system.  "So if a crook comes in, he know right away that he's dealing with a home with an alarm system."

That alone bolster's the home's safety.

But Fortenberry said the home's garage is an easy target.  The door between the garage and the house was unlocked.  It's one of the easiest routes into a home.

"If garage door quits opening, you pull on this cord, and it releases the lock on the garage, and you can open it this way," said Fortenberry explaining the emergency cord on the inside of a garage door.  "All he has to do is slide a coat hanger in between this break here, find this cord and pull it, and it opens the garage door."  Then the criminal could just walk inside the house.

There's a quick fix.  Roll up the cord and tape it.  It's harder for a burglar to pull a taped cord than a loose one from outside.  And making break-ins difficult is the true key to security.

"A crook is lazy," said Fortenberry.  "And he's going to go for the easiest target he can find. If he has to work to get it, he's gonna go somewhere else."

To have your home inspected by Fortenberry, call the Gautier Police Department at 228-497-2486 to set up an appointment.  The service is free to Gautier residents.