Special Assignment: Time for Crime

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Waking up to a robber in your home, being held at gunpoint, or even being followed home by a stranger.

All frightening thoughts.

A News 12 investigation finds these crimes are happening not only at night, but right in the middle of the day, right here where you live.

Meredith Taylor is On Your Side with a special assignment, "Time For Crime", and why it's happening.

Dusty fingerprints, broken blinds, and a scar above her lip.

All reminders of why Terese Wood has trouble sleeping at night.

"He grabbed me by my face and he said, 'I'm gonna rape you and I'm gonna kill you'," Terese says. "'You gonna know what it's like to die.'"

The attacker climbed through her open bedroom window, and Terese fought him off.

That was in January, on a Saturday, just before 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

"Well, investigators felt like he was here to burglarize the place and then found me and got surprised," she says.

While Terese's confrontation turned into more of an attack than a burglary, a News 12 investigation confirms hundreds of burglaries have happened in Richmond County in the past year.

"You'll see more residential burglaries in the daytime when people aren't at home," says Lt. Scott Peebles of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Because residents aren't home, Lt. Peebles says, you can't pinpoint a "time for crime".

Not the case when it comes to residential robberies, also called home invasions.

After looking through hundreds of cases in the past year, we found the most happened between 12:30 and 1:30 in the morning.

"More people would tend to be asleep at night," Lt. Peebles says. "It would make them easier victims, they would be more vulnerable to a would-be attacker at you know a later hour than an earlier hour."

Lt. Peebles also reminds us that a lot of these robberies happen at hotels, where there may be a lot of drug activity going on.

However, home invasions have an exception.

During the day, even thought it's light outside, we're told if you're an elderly person, you're more at risk.

Daylight is also when the most reports come in for stolen vehicles, but that's not necessarily when the crime actually occurred.

"Most of the time what we see is people wake up in the morning, they go out to go to work and their car's not there," Lt. Peebles says. "They don't know what time it happened, but sometime in the nighttime."

Whether it's your car you're protecting, your home, or yourself, the majority of crime happens when the sun goes down.

"A lot of it's happening at night, for obvious reasons, and that is the cover of darkness, because it's earlier to not be seen at nighttime and that's as simple as it gets," Lt. Peebles says.

For Terese, things aren't simple, because she says her attacker's been back several more times.

She's covered her windows, and she keeps a gun by her side.

"I mean, I stay in fear," she says. "I will not sleep alone in this house."

She's hoping the man behind her fear will soon do the time for his crime.

What would you do if a stranger tried to attack you?

It happened to one Augusta woman, and happens every day around the area you live, even during the day.

Over and over again, Sarah Best has told her story.

Almost a year ago, she stopped at a Washington Road gas station just before 11 o'clock at night.

Two men watched her and followed her home.

"And as soon as I walked toward the steps, I turned my back on him and he ran toward me and pulled me down on the ground and said give me your keys," Sarah says.

Sarah got away unharmed, and now she's careful in everything she does.

A News 12 investigation found that more than 40 aggravated assaults happened between 10:30 and 11:30 at night in Richmond County.

And the most attacks happened in the early evening hours between 6:30 and 7:30 pm--almost 70.

"A couple of things you have to account for," says Lt. Peebles. "School-aged teenagers are out of school. A lot of gang activity is after school."

"Secondly, you have people coming home from work, husbands and wives becoming involved in domestic disputes and weapons becoming involved, so then you have aggravated assaults."

Lt. Peebles says this crime happens around the clock.

Be careful when you're walking around at night; that's when you're most likely to be targeted for a robbery.

In the last year, about 40 people were robbed between 10:30 and 11:30 at night.

Switch the p.m. to a.m., and you'll get the lowest number, 5.

"In a social setting more people are out and about in the evening hours. You have to take drugs and alcohol into account, making people more vulnerable, and also the cover of darkness," Lt. Peebles says.

And when it comes to carjackings, the carwash is a place you especially want to be careful. Do-it-yourself carwashes will have you cleaning away, not paying attention to your surroundings.

Carjackings happen both at night and during the day. The most likely time for you to be a victim is between 11:30 at night and 12:30 in the morning.

That's thanks to low visibility.

"You need to protect yourself against all kind of crime, and to do that, be vigilant, be aware of surroundings," Lt. Peebles says. "Don't allow yourself to be vulnerable in certain surroundings."

Advice Sarah echoes from experience.

"It was very terrifying," she says. "I didn't know what would happen. I was petrified that he could have shot me and not cared."

Time doesn't stop for crime...and your life shouldn't either.

In our investigation, we found the majority of crimes do happen at night.

A robber is most likely to visit you at night. A burglar is most likely to break into your home during the day, and most stolen vehicles are reported during the day.

But burglaries and stolen cars are toughest to pin down, because in most cases, there's no one around to see it happen.