'Tis the season for ... burglaries
| December 6, 2010 8:00 PM
Guard those Christmas presents, folks, and keep an eye on that new big-screen TV. Don't forget to lock your doors, either.
Burglaries are common during the holidays, police say, and this year is no exception.
"This is prime burglary season," said Coeur d'Alene Police Sgt. Christie Wood. "Burglars are looking for, and certainly know that people are going to have, high-end electronics and other items under their trees or in their cars."
From Nov. 29 to the morning of Dec. 3, Coeur d'Alene police filed 12 burglary reports - six vehicle and six residence. A laptop, diamond ring and digital camera were among the items reportedly stolen.
Some burglars will break into homes and snatch gifts, Wood said. Others will focus on unattended vehicles, where people often hide their presents until Christmas.
And it's not just one or two lone wolves, Wood said: Police occasionally deal with organized teams of burglars that take advantage of unwary Christmas shoppers.
"It is really important this time of year to take the extra (precautionary) steps," she advised.
In Post Falls, around half a dozen vehicle burglaries were reported over the last two weeks, according to police.
"I would say that probably 90 percent of those vehicles were left unlocked," said Post Falls Capt. Greg McLean. "It's just the quick grab is what (thieves) are looking for. Closer to the Christmas holiday, it's usually what they can grab out of the cars."
Unguarded presents, purses and iPods are common targets.
"What we're seeing is most of (the incidents) are residential," McLean added. "Car parked in the driveway, car parked in the street. People need to understand that the vehicle is not a safe."
The Kootenai County Sheriff's Department has dealt with about 15 burglary reports since Nov. 22, deputies said. During the same time period last year, when snowy weather didn't hinder holiday travel, the department fielded 41 burglary reports.
"Usually there's a little increase (in burglaries)," Maj. Ben Wolfinger said. "There's always the scrooge out there looking for the Christmas gifts under the tree."
Police offered a few tips on keeping safe from holiday thieves. Don't be too obvious, they said - instead of putting up that Christmas tree right in front of the living room window, place it somewhere less prominent. That way, a would-be burglar can't see the tree - or the gifts piled underneath - from outside the home.
And anything in the vehicle should be safely tucked away.
"If you have gifts in the car, make sure you cover them up," Wolfinger said. "Make sure you lock your home if you're going to be gone."
Above all, be vigilant. Police rely on watchful citizens to report suspicious activity, Wood said. Burglars are often caught by somebody's neighbor down the street.
"We are successful," she said, "because people will notice somebody, a car in a neighborhood that doesn't belong there, and they'll call us."