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Police: Holiday burglaries on rise

‘Tis the season … for burglaries?

According to representatives of the Troy Police Department, the holidays always bring an increase in break-ins and burglaries, particularly as college students leave town and leave apartments or residences unattended.

“We used to see this sporadically, now I would say the trend is increasing,” said Chief Anthony Everage.

And the numbers support that trend. Since September, Troy Police have arrested seven individuals and charged them with 19 counts of burglary. “One of those suspects was charged with 12 counts of burglary,” said Capt. Jimmy Ennis.

Four more individuals were charged with receiving stolen property. “What that means is they had the stolen property in their possession, but we couldn’t prove they committed the burglary,” Ennis said.

Add to those totals Jarvis Pollard, 19, of Troy, who was arrested Thursday on a felony charge of receiving stolen property, and the numbers are even more staggering, officers said.

“It used to be in the late ‘90s if there were car burglaries, residential burglaries or business burglaries you could just about hang your hat on one of three or four people,” Ennis said. “We could lock up one or two of them, and the burglaries would be over.

“But now, we’ve locked up seven, just since September.”

Both Ennis and Sgt. Benny Scarbrough attributed part of the increase in burglaries to the ease with which items can be taken and moved today, particularly electronic items such as laptop computers, flat-screen television sets and gaming consoles.

“We’re much more mobile today,” Scarbrough said.

And, burglars are perhaps more brazen: “You used to see a lot of burglaries taking place at night; now they’re happening during the day,” he said.

As times changes, police are seeking more input and assistance from the public.

“A lot of students live in residential neighborhoods,” Ennis said, explaining that can actually work to a criminal’s advantage. “A lot of people don’t even think about what they’re seeing when they watch a TV being put into a car … but in reality, they’re watching a burglary.”

That same scenario actually led to the arrest of one burglary suspect on Saturday, when a Troy police officer observed a car outside an apartment complex, idling, with the rear passenger door open. Minutes later, the suspect was arrested and the stolen property was recovered, Scarbrough said.

“We actually want people to err on the side of caution,” Ennis said. “If you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary, call the police and let us check these people out.”

That’s what happened on Monday, he added, when an anonymous caller reported suspicious men at Troy Place Apartments and details that indicated a burglary may have occurred. Within minutes, police arrived on the scene. A foot chase ensued, the suspects were caught and arrested and the stolen property was recovered.

“The public is very, very important at all times,” Ennis said.

So is being safe and cautious. The police are working to inform residents, particularly college students who may be leaving their apartments unoccupied over the Christmas holidays, to take extra precautions.

“If you’re going home for break, please take your laptop, your desktop, your TV,” Ennis said, adding that taking a television home is not as challenging a task as it might sound, thanks to the advantages of flat-screen models. “Burglars are toting them off like they’re a loaf of bread.”

“I would just take a few extra minutes and load everything that expensive or electronic in my car,” he added.

Scarbrough released a list of precautions for students who are leaving on break, including such tips as:

• Close and lock all windows; close all shades, drapes and blinds.

• Close and lock all entrance doors.

• If you leave your car on campus, roll up windows and lock the doors.

• Park in a well-lit location and remove any valuables from your vehicle.

• If you leave your bike on campus, make sure it is secure and registered. Lock your bike to a fixed, legal bike rack and use a U-shaped lock.

And, ultimately, he said, “ask yourself this question: If you’re locked out of your home, can you still get in? If you answered ‘yes,’ so can a burglar.”

One of the most important safety precautions students, and all Troy residents, can take is to record serial numbers on electronic devices as part of a household inventory. Traditionally, that can be done with a notebook or a form available at the police department. But Scarbrough said it can be even easier for today’s students.

“Everyone one of those students has a cell phone with a camera,” he said. “They need to go up to that device – TV, laptop, game system – and take a picture of the serial number. Once that have that picture, they can do one of three things: save it on the phone or camera, put it on a jump drive or put it on a DVD and give it to someone they trust.”

The key, Ennis said, is having a detailed record and identifying information on property, in case it is stolen. “We recover a lot of stolen property that we can’t return because we can’t identify,” he said.

Anyone wanting more information about safety precautions or how to document property can call the police department at 566-0500.