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Burglaries on the rise

Officials with the Covington County Sheriff's Department are urging county residents to be cautious due to a large number of burglaries recently.

According to Detective Walter Inabinett of the Sheriff's Department, the department has been busy over the past couple of months working on two separate set of burglary incidents.

According to Inabinett, during a period between March and May 7, several burglaries took place in areas such as Horn Hill,

U.S. 331 north of Opp and Highway 29 south of Andalusia.

Arrested in these burglaries was Steven Don Re' of Picayune, Miss., who had also been a resident of Opp for a short time.

Among items taken in these burglaries were money, weapons and jewelry. Also arrested was his girlfriend, a juvenile.

Inabinett said investigators with the Sheriff's Department recently traveled to Bay St. Louis, Miss. and were assisted in an investigation by ATF agents, Louisiana investigators and the Bay St. Louis Police Department.

He said it appears that Re' and his girlfriend had been involved with burglaries in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida.

A large amount of stolen property has been recovered to owners and the cases are still under investigation. Inabinett added that much property from Louisiana and Mississippi was recovered in Covington County.

Both Re' and his girlfriend are still being held in the Covington County Jail.

Investigators on the burglaries other than Inabinett included Elliott King and Scott Conner.

The two were wanted on stolen vehicle charges in Tennessee and in Crestview, Fla. and one of the vehicles was allegedly used in the burglaries.

Then beginning in late April or possibly early May, Inabinett said there was another rash of burglary incidents.

He said that Darrin Meeks of Opp and Bobby O'Lee Phillips were arrested in these burglaries, which took place in Horn Hill, Red Oak, Blue Springs, Beulah, Opp, Geneva County and Crenshaw County.

Taken in these burglaries were items such as jewelry, weapons and money.

An effort between the Sheriff's Department and the Opp Police Department helped to recover 15 weapons and personal property. Personal property and weapons were also recovered from Opp and Florala.

Assisting in this investigation were officers with the Geneva County Sheriff's Department and the Crenshaw County Sheriff's Department.

Inabinett said he was somewhat concerned about the burglaries as typically there have not been such a large number happening at this time of the year, and usually not in two separate group of incidents such as the two which the department has been working on.

He said all of the burglaries likely could not have been prevented as they were all the result of forced entries.

Inabinett did, however, suggest several tips for county residents.

"Neighbors should just be watching other neighbor's

houses and neighbors should talk and develop some kind of (neighborhood watch) plan," said Inabinett. "Also for people that have vacant residences due to family members being deceased or other factors, they should make sure that property is watched carefully as we have had a lot of thefts and burglaries to vacant residences and that has been a big target (for burglars)."

It is especially important to remember safety tips when taking vacations or other trips away from home, including:

Asking a trusted neighbor to park in your driveway or in front of your home, occasionally placing garbage in your garbage receptacle, mowing the lawn or shoveling sidewalks, checking your home for anything unusual and picking up your mail and newspapers.

Either use automatic timers or recruit a trusted neighbor to turn lights on at dusk and off at your bedtime. Vary the lights to be turned on and occasionally have a radio turned on. Never leave lights or the radio on constantly.

Leave your drapes in a normal position. Have a neighbor close them at night, open them at daylight and reposition them every day or so.

Set the bell on your telephone on low. A loudly ringing unanswered phone is a sure sign no one is home. If you have portable phone service to remove the phone from the wall. Once this is done the phone's bell will not ring.

Keep your garage door closed and locked so no one can see your car is gone or other equipment in your garage.

Tell a neighbor where you can be reached in an emergency.

Don't let your travel plans be widely known.