Columbia Star

Don’t let theft rob you of your holiday spirit

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How can we avoid thefts during the holidays?

Not surprisingly, with thieves on the prowl, the holidays between Halloween and New Year’s Day rank among the highest for thefts, showing that crime can certainly dampen seasonal cheer if you’re a victim.

Thankfully, law enforcement along with savvy retailers, are getting better at outwitting those who would rob us during this period of traditional generosity.

In a report released late last month, the National Insurance Crime Bureau noted that almost 23,000 vehicles were reported stolen during 11 holidays last year. New Year’s Day tallied the most holiday thefts with 2,571.

According to the NICB, holiday thefts in 2018 ranked as follows: 1) New Year’s Day (2,571); 2) Presidents’ Day (2,380); 3) Halloween ( 2,275); 4) Labor Day ( 2,235); 5) Memorial Day (2,167); 6) New Year’s Eve (2,122); 7) Independence Day (2,071); 8) Valentine’s Day (2,001); 9) Christmas Eve (1,912); 10) Thanksgiving (1,698); and 11) Christmas Day ( 1,447). So, although it’s easy to see that thievery is a year-round menace, the winter holidays are marred by spikes of such crimes. It’s especially conspicuous with packages disappearing from front porches and shopping bags being seized from car backseats.

For front porch and neighborhood thefts, Columbia Police Department Spokesperson Jennifer Timmons recommends that residents consider using “Next Door” and/or the “Ring App.” Users can exchange valuable information with local law enforcement in a concerted effort to combat crime.

Amazon uses its Ring doorbell and social media app to help protect its packages from theft. Ring, back in 2017, before it was acquired by Amazon, found that a fifth of US households had a package stolen that year, with an average value per package of $ 140. The smart doorbell app lets people remotely see, hear, and talk to whoever is at their door. It also records porch thefts that users can post on Ring’s social media app, enabling neighbors to work together with local police departments. For details, see amazon.com.

Established in 2011, the Nextdoor app is a social networking platform for local communities and neighborhoods. Instead of connecting you to users across the world, Nextdoor narrows your network to those in your surrounding area. Its worldwide service includes more than 180,000 neighborhoods across the globe. It is free, secure and easy to sign up through its website nextdoor.com.

The Columbia Police Department can also receive and distribute information through the service.

The Columbia Star wants to add to the community’s storehouse of knowledge, whether it is a neighborhood matter, a larger issue or a simple curiosity. We’ll do the footwork for you. Submit your questions to: wmchughes27@gmail.com.

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