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Protect yourself from holiday crime

Clark County deputies typically see spike this time of year.

Just a few weeks ago, Norma Skelton witnessed a holiday crime first-hand, when a woman stole her daughter’s purse right out of her cart as she loaded packages into the car.

“It’s awful. You have to be careful,” she said.

Overall, calls for service at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office are up five percent over last year, and criminal reports are up three percent at 5,065 reports made so far. Lt. Dustin White said personal and property crimes go up close to the holidays because “people sometimes can be desperate.”

“In my experience, 20-plus years, it’s mostly motor vehicle break-ins. No one’s around (and) they break in your window, they get into your car,” White said. “That’s why I stress to hide any possessions in your car and put them in your trunk. Secure and safeguard everything.”

Marilyn Neely of Springfield said she tries to be more aware of her surroundings while she is shopping.

“I usually put my purse in before I even start unloading the car. (It’s) less of a target,” she said.

Parking near an entrance, in a well-lit area, and going with a group to shop can help make your vehicle less of a target. White suggested not wearing expensive jewelry, carrying your purse close to your body and not allowing yourself to become overloaded with packages so as not to make yourself a target to thieves.

Burglars have been known to take presents right from under the tree. Making your home seem occupied with lights and televisions on timers can help deter thieves. Keeping valuables, including wrapped presents, out of the sight of windows can prevent someone from having a good view of what they might try to grab.

“The criminal’s not going to stop to open (a package) to see what is inside. It might be a comforter for your bed or it might be an Xbox One,” White said. “They’re going to take the box and see what reward they got.”

Suspicious activity should be reported to law enforcement.White said most arrests are made when a witness calls authorities.

“That’s how we get criminals off the streets,” he said.

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