December 4, 2006
Imagine someone taking a five finger holiday discount...from your house.
It's happened more than 30 times in the past three days in Richmond County.
That's tens of thousands of dollars of personal property.
This weekend was almost like a shopping spree for burglars. All types of Christmas list things from PlayStations to remote control cars were taken from people's homes. And deputies say it's about to get worse.
General Manager James Wise says someone busted a window and took hundreds in electronics, like TVs and stereos.
"We hope justice is brought on them," he said. "We're upgrading our security immensely over this."
James isn't the only one thinking about a security upgrade. Our next victim lost tens of thousands of dollars in video games, jewelry, shoes, savings bonds and leather jackets...all taken from her home.
"Things were all over the floor," Norma Puryear told us. "The place was just ransacked!"
Investigators say around this time of year, burglary reports start to look like Christmas wish lists. Things like televisions, boom boxes, toys, and much sought-after gaming systems like the PlayStation are targeted.
According to police reports, burglars have taken around $50,000 worth of things so far. Now let's say the average family spends about $1000 around the holidays. That's about 50,000 Christmas mornings stolen.
"The honest folks are out spending their money and buying gifts. The dishonest folks are out not spending money and stealing the gifts," said Lt. Jimmy Young of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.
Stealing from people like Norma Puryear.
"It's just material things...we weren't harmed. We'll get it back," she said. "We got our health and our strength right now."
"It doesn't make any sense to steal it and risk going to prison for years and years when they could come in and get the merchandise," James said.
But as police reports show, lots of burglars think this stuff is up for grabs...whether it belongs to them or not.
In all 30 reports, the most commonly stolen items are game systems like the PlayStation and Xbox. Also, any kind of electronic toys, jewelry, and even power tools seem to be popular choices among thieves.
The sheriff's office says there are things we can do to protect ourselves.
Automatic timers on your lights make burglars think you're at home. Also, deadbolts on your door can stop burglars from getting in, and alarms with a loud sound will scare criminals away.
Also, police have a better chance of returning your stuff if you have the specifics on the items, like the serial number. Keep records of all your purchases.