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By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Families will travel across town and across the country this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, often leaving their homes vulnerable to burglars.
Law enforcement authorities often see an increase in residential break-ins during the holiday season.
â€śWe see an increase in burglaries, particularly in rental properties,â€ť Starkville Police Chief David Lindley said. â€śAs it gets closer to Christmas, some people donâ€™t have the ability to secure presents and get gifts, so they resort to theft, and that can cross a number of geographic areas.â€ť
Many Mississippi State University students have gone home for Thanksgiving break, leaving behind a lot of empty apartments and houses throughout Starkville, but both the SPD and the Oktibbeha County Sheriffâ€™s Department will be keeping a special watch on those properties.
â€śWe will be stepping up our patrol. We will be checking the apartment complexes regularly while the students are out of town for a few days,â€ť Sheriff Dolph Bryan said.
There are several ways to safe guard your home while your away, many of which make it appear as if youâ€™ve never left. Asking a neighbor to collect your mail and newspaper will prevent it from piling up â€” a sign for potential burglars that no one is home. Lindley also suggests putting timers on the lights inside the home.
Bryan said homes and apartments should be well-secured before leaving town, and travelers should take any valuables with them when they leave.
â€śElectronics, money, jewelry and guns are what people are looking for when they break in,â€ť he said. â€śIf someone has a big cache of guns if theyâ€™re a hunter, I would advise that they take them with them.â€ť
Another preventative is the vacation home check service offered by the Starkville Police Department.
â€śAll they have to do is come by and fill out a form with contact information and how long theyâ€™ll be gone, and weâ€™ll check their home while theyâ€™re gone once a day,â€ť Lindley said. â€śWeâ€™ve had that service for quite some time and itâ€™s proven to be effective.â€ť
Even if you are staying in town this holiday season, it is important to stay alert and on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.
â€śThe main thing we need to do is have people report any suspicious activity. A lot of times people see something that they feel is not right, but they donâ€™t say anything. What theyâ€™re seeing is a crime being committed but they donâ€™t realize it,â€ť Lindley said.