Deputies conduct security check to guard against holiday burglars

By Tim Pulliam - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the time when thieves are looking to steal your holiday cheer. Richland County deputies say home burglaries are up, and investigators are advising you to put in some work around your homes to keep the intruders out.

It's a surprise no one wants -- you come home to find you home and your personal belongings burglarized. But there are simple ways to make it less tempting for thieves to step foot on your property.

Betty loves her home. She's been there 40 years, and for the most part, she's always felt safe. "If you don't take care of yourself, I don't care if you have a husband or lots of children -- the bottom line is you," she said.

Senior Deputy Steven Tapler is on Richland County's Community Action Team. Deputies spend time in neighborhoods doing everything from attending community meetings to conducting security surveys.  

Tapler checked Betty's home inside and out. "As far as being safe on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say it's pretty much an 8 or a 9," said Tapler.

Tapler says thieves are looking for easy, high-value targets, especially during the holiday season. Alarm systems can help, but Tapler says safety begins on the outside.

"We have a tree in the front yard which is beautiful," said Tapler. "What we want to do is make sure that the tree is trimmed at least six feet off the ground. That helps with the view from the street you can see if some one is coming in or out."

Tapler suggests installing security lights that stay on outside your home. Keep shrubs cut low around your windows, so intruders can easily be spotted. Also, put a pin through your window frame to keep it from being pushed up. And don't forget those doors.

"Right here the screws that connect it to the frame should be at least three inches in," said Tapler. "That way it makes it a lot hard stronger here. That way if someone is trying to break in, it will make it a lot more difficult."

Challenges Betty hopes will stop intruders in their tracks if they ever step on her property. "Don't ever be complacent, ever," she said. "You can't be complacent about safety."

If you want deputies to do a security survey on your home, call the sheriff's department at 803-576-3000 and ask for the Community Action Team.

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