Holdays lead to increase in crime

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2005

For weeks, your child asked for a new bicycle for Christmas and on the fateful day, you deliver one – brand new and shining.

You’re a pretty good parent in your child’s eyes.

A few days later, the child learns how bad the world can get when he discovers his prized, brand-new bicycle is missing.

Someone has stolen it from the yard.

That was the case for one local family who were visiting relatives on Westwood Circle on Monday, Dec. 27.

According to the victim, two bicycles were stolen from her parents’ front yard between 6

and 7:30 p.m.

She pointed out they were even parked under a security light.

Not long before or after, another two bicycles were stolen up the same street.

Then the following Wednesday night, another family’s car was broken into next door to the first house where the bikes were stolen.

Unfortunately, the family with the vehicle break-in were already victimized several weeks ago.

On that occasion, the victim, a schoolteacher, went home early to only find her home had been burglarized.

Not knowing if they were still inside, she quickly left the house and drove away before calling the police.

Police found that someone had kicked in the back door of the home and the burglars took the children’s video games and the victim’s jewelry.

The mother who now has children said they are all frustrated by the recent &uot;crime wave&uot; through the neighborhood and feel like nothing is being done.

With that, Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram said they do investigate the thefts and that this type of crime goes up during the holidays.

&uot;At this time of year, we have people who will see these bicycles and they’ll steal them,&uot; he said.

&uot;It is usually juveniles and they’ll ride the bikes awhile and then whether it is the fear of getting caught or not, they’ll abandon the bike in the woods or in a kudzu patch.&uot;

Ingram said parents can help in the situation by making some type of mark on a bicycle since parents very rarely record the serial numbers of bicycles.

&uot;They need to make a mark of some type, possibly the last four digits of their social security number on the bike frame,&uot; he said.

&uot;That will help us identify the bike if we find it.&uot;

Ingram said this is the first year in memory that there have been so many bikes stolen in Greenville, and he said his officers are trying to patrol the neighborhoods, but during the holidays it gets tougher.

&uot;Many of the residents who would normally be home and checking out the streets, are away from home,&uot; he said.

&uot;That opens the door for property crimes such as these.

We have had more bikes stolen in the last few months than I can remember since being here.&uot;

Ingram said such thefts are a misdemeanor, but if caught the lawless will be arrested and prosecuted.

He also said neighbors need to watch out for their neighbors at all times.

&uot;I’m confident that if they see someone acting suspicious in the neighborhood who shouldn’t be there, they’ll let us know,&uot; he said.

&uot;In fact, we encourage residents to call us about suspicious people.&uot;

Ingram also said the department keeps a bin of recovered bicycles at the department and those with missing bikes should check in to see if they can identify one of the bikes as their’s.

There are no guarantees that you won’t be a victim of a crime

in 2005, but the police say that taking a few common sense precautions

can shift the odds in your favor. They are:

N Be aware of your surroundings and report suspicious


&uot;If you see a problem, you can avoid a problem,&uot;

said Ingram said.

Remember that the police can’t be everywhere at the same time so they rely on residents to act as extra eyes and ears for them by reporting suspicious behavior.


Keep your garage door closed when you are out of sight

of it. It only takes seconds for a thief to enter your garage

and take property.

Remember that thieves will cruise a neighborhood looking for easy targets.


Remember to lock your home doors and windows, including

your gates.

Again, burglars will roam neighborhoods looking for open windows

or doors. Don’t give burglars an invitation to enter your home by leaving doors or windows open.


Keep your vehicle locked and property out of sight and

secured. Don’t leave your vehicle running while you make a quick

errand into a store.

A quick errand can turn into hours dealing with an insurance

company if your car is stolen. Don’t make your car an inviting

target by leaving valuables where they can be seen or the key in the ignition.

N If possible use your garage to store your vehicle and bicycles, or

use anti-theft devices for vehicles.

N ID your property.

Keeping an up-to-date list of serial numbers and marking valuables

in a unique way so they can be identified if recovered by police

won’t prevent a home from being burglarized, but it will assist

police to return recovered items.

N Remember to shred all documents with personal information

to avoid identity theft.

N Promote Neighborhood Watch in your area.

One way to keep from becoming a victim of crime is to band

together with other neighbors to keep an eye out in the neighborhood

for suspicious people or activities.