A new string of area burglaries have law enforcement officials concerned.
"Who ever is doing this is getting braver by going into homes while the victims are there," Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison told The Brazil Times Wednesday. "There have been three burglaries within the past week, two in Brazil and one in the county. One of which, the people were at home during the break-in."
Of the two city burglaries, one took place in the Ridge Street area on Sunday, and the other on North Meridian Street sometime late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning. Harrison said the Clay County Sheriff's Department also responded to a burglary at an undisclosed county residence sometime late last week.
Harrison said various items have been taken from homes during the burglaries, including jewelry, a big screen television, a laptop computer, a palm pilot, various types of collectibles and an undisclosed amount of cash.
"We want people to be aware that this is going on in the community so they can take safety precautions to protect themselves," Harrison said. "The main thing people need to do is keep their houses and vehicles locked."
With 30-40 vehicle break-ins reported this summer, Harrison said it would not be far-fetched if the vehicle thefts and the burglaries were connected in some way.
"Law enforcement understands that a rash of these types of thefts and break-ins are usually connected somewhere in the circle, and usually it's because of drugs," he said.
According to Harrison, a security system of some type, whether a basic alarm or lighting system the homeowner can hook up, a system installed by a surveillance company or even having a dog in the yard is something criminals don't like.
"But remember, if you have a dog, and its barking in the night, please get up and go look to see what is wrong," he said. "I don't know how many times a homeowner has told me their dog was barking but they regretted they didn't go see what was wrong."
Developing a good relationship with the neighbors is another way to protect your home, according to Harrison.
"When neighbors look out for each other it deters crime," he said. "If someone is out for the evening the neighbor can keep an eye out for anything suspicious at their house."
If a homeowner returns home to discover an intruder inside their home, Harrison said they should take quick action.
"Do not go inside, call 911 immediately and get a safe distance away while waiting for on officer to arrive," he said. "If you're in the house with an intruder, call 911 while trying to get safely outside or locking yourself in a secure room to wait for an officer. We don't want anyone to get hurt. People involved in criminal activity are often desperate, and desperate people do desperate things because they don't want to be caught."
For more information or to report a crime, contact Harrison at the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211.
Burglary safety tips
With another rash of burglaries in the area, law enforcement officials urge homeowners offer the following safety tips for homeowners to use to increase security around their homes:
* Lock all doors and windows when home alone,
* Fix broken locks or windows and install deadbolts on doors leading outside the home,
* Trim all shrubbery around windows and doorways to remove potential hiding places for criminals,
* Use motion sensor exterior lights and use interior light timers to establish a pattern of occupancy even when not at home,
* Consider installing an alarm system with visible signage and an audible horn or bell to alert of possible danger,
* Install and use a safe inside to store valuables, and
* Create a list, including serial numbers, and take pictures of all valuable possessions to keep in a safe place for use by law enforcement agencies in the event of a burglary
To report a crime after the fact, contact the Brazil City Police Department at 446-2211 or the Clay County Sheriff's Department at 446-2535.
To report a crime in progress, stay calm, call 911 from a safe place and stay on the line with the dispatcher until an officer arrives on the scene.