Tips to keep criminals away from your home and your wallet
December 4, 2013 at 10:28 AM CST - Updated July 11 at 10:26 PM
Tis the Season for Holiday Crime. Heartland News talked to authorities about the newest tricks and tried and true trends to outsmart criminals in stores and in your homes.
First, they say while you are shopping, make sure that your purse is closed and you have a good hold on it. Gentleman should also consider keeping their wallets somewhere besides their back pocket.
"It only takes a second for someone to grab your stuff, "said Lt. Barry Hovis with the Cape Girardeau Police Department. "We saw a lot of thefts happen last year before shoppers even knew it. Don't make yourself a target."
Lt. Hovis recommends going a step further than covering your newly purchased items in parking lots, he says don't even leave them in your car. Meanwhile keep your credit card and debit card account numbers out of sight at the checkout. Authorities say one of the newest trends is for crooks to take quick cell phone pictures of your numbers to try to steal your information.
Meanwhile at home, investigators say small steps to take a proactive approach can save you a lot of money.
Make sure your locks are in good condition, and keep the outside of your home well lighted. Also, consider putting those lights on a timer if you plan to be out of town.
In addition, Hovis says things like surveillance cameras and security systems really do work.
"We've been able to get good pictures and catch some criminals like that," said Lt. Hovis. "I believe those are worth it and these days they don't cost as much as they used to. When we catch one person it actually prevents about ten or twenty crimes because it's usually the same people that keep repeating those acts."
Many investigators say it's also worth taking a few minutes to catalog your serial numbers on items like computers and television sets so that if they are stolen they can be tracked.
Meanwhile, police say they it can be difficult when we have some some residents in the Heartland that rarely see their neighbors and others with friends just a few yards away. So, if you plan to be out of town, or even just away for the day, the best thing to do is designate someone to check on your home regularly. They also recommend having someone you know well stay at your house to make sure your property is protected.
"Even in our rural areas people look out for each other, said Scott County Sheriff, Rick Walter. "Just make sure you're aware of who is supposed to be around your house or your neighbor's house, even cars, and let us know if you see anything out of the ordinary."
Finally authorities say while you are away keep information of your whereabouts off of social media.
"Please don't go on facebook or twitter and post about how you're having so much fun out of state or on vacation," said Sheriff Rick Walter. "You'd be surprised how often people do that. Just wait until you get home. Save posting picture of all your fun until then. Don't give the bad guys the advantage," he said.
Investigators say criminals always have their eye out for a target. They believe crooks do indeed scan facebook, twitter, instagram, and other forms of social media to try and find out where the easy prey is.
"A lot of your information is out there," said Sheriff Walter.