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Tips to curtail summer petty thefts

It's called petty theft, but if it happens to you, it is probably anything but petty.

A recent upswing in minor thefts has drawn pleas from city police to "just be smart."

Thomson Police Department Investigator Jerry Stanphill said recent weeks have seen the numbers of crimes involving $300 or less increase.

"In the last few weeks, we have had a jump. It always seems to rise when school lets out for the summer. Kids vandalize vehicles, breaking windows and taking things out, usually cell phones, mounted stereos, video games and some purses," he said. "Anything they can look in and see and think they can turn to a profit or keep for themselves is subject to this type of theft."

The investigator said sometimes there is no theft only vehicle damage.

"They are looking under seats and anywhere things might be hidden. We have had instances where windows are broken and nothing is taken," he said.

"Breaking a car window does not make a lot of noise, so often no attention is drawn. The thieves don't really care about the damage, just self gain. They can be in and out and gone in 30 seconds without anybody seeing them."

Investigator Stanphill said although someone might witness a theft or vandalism, the crime might still go unreported.

"A lot of people don't want to get involved. Even if they saw something, they don't want to say anything. In years past, we could talk to people and usually find out who did what. Now, they just say they didn't see anything instead of getting involved."

The investigator said the fear comes from the repercussions of what might happen if a witness or someone with information says something.

"A lot of time for prosecution to take place, you are going to have to have that witness although, sometimes you can go about it without a witness when the culprit is discovered with stolen merchandise. But there are instances where a witness will have to testify for there to be an arrest," he said.

The secret Investigator Stanphill said is lock it up.

"Take things with you or lock them away out of sight. It's a temptation for them to walk by a car or truck and see things in the open," he said, also emphasizing the fact that the out of sight theory also applies to items around homes and businesses.

"You have to protect your things yourself. Just be smart and more conscientious of how things you own appear in vehicles and around property. If at all possible, the best suggestion is to have nothing in the vehicle, or if so, lock it in the trunk or truck bed. It takes too much effort to get inside trunks and mounted toolboxes, and most shy away from those type of thefts," said the investigator.

Web posted on Friday, June 11, 2004

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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01

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