November 12, 2006
Thousands of you have been victims of burglary.
This year there were almost 2000 burglaries in Richmond County.
For some thieves, the hardest part is just getting inside your home.
In this Special Assignment, News 12 shows you how they're getting a hold of your hidden valuables.
A 74-year-old burglary victim we spoke with can't forget what she came home to on a Friday afternoon last month. She only agreed to talk about it if we didn't reveal who she is.
"It just upset me so much to think someone had been in my house," she said.
We'll call her Sue. She's a widow who is now missing one of the last memories of her husband: their wedding rings.
"I had these two expensive TVs that they never bothered," she said.
Sue left her home during the day, leaving the rings on this dresser and some other jewelry in a box and in drawers.
It was scattered and picked through when she got back home and found her front door kicked in.
"I feel like they must have been watching me though to come in at that time of day."
Lt. Tony Walden leads the Richmond County Sheriff's burglary division. He hears stories like Sue's all the time.
"We have seen those in the past where they'll go through someone's jewelry and pick out certain pieces of jewelry and just leave the rest," he said. "They know what they were looking for."
The thief could be an adult looking to make money off your jewelry, TV, VCR, or weapons.
Or it could be a juvenile, just looking for a videogame to steal.
Regardless, Lt. Walden says most of the time, these things aren't hidden in very good places.
"People tend to hide stuff in their dresser drawers and under mattresses and in their closets," he told News 12.
You may want to double check things the next time you get ready to leave your house. Investigators say that in 95% of the burglaries, the items are easy to get to.
Sue is now a statistic...and she has advice for everyone else.
"I would have had my jewelry put away and I advise anybody to."
And keeping your valuables hidden is the only thing you can really do if you want to be safe.
"To be innovative in trying to find a place to protect their items...and you can even go so far as saying I'm going to put this stuff in a safety deposit box," Lt. Walden said.
It may be a little late, but Sue's made some of those changes now.
She's just glad she still has something valuable to hold on to.
"If I had left [my dog] in this house, she would have barked and they would have probably killed her...and I couldn't live without my dog."
And as burglaries continue to happen, Sue just wants everybody else to be prepared.
Lt. Walden reminds you to also keep track of serial numbers on your weapons and jewelry.
You're more likely to get your things back after a burglary. If and when they find them, they can track them back to you.
These are some ideas of good hiding places as listed on overseasdigest.com:
Walls, beams, baseboards, paneling, mirrors, furniture, bookcase, light switches, houseplants, or buried treasure.
The first five are better for people that own their own home, and the last five for those who rent or have an apartment.