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Thieves target dozens of Columbia homes and businesses over Thanksgiving week

Police say the number of burglaries over Thanksgiving week are up dramatically this year compared to last.

There were 34 burglaries across the city from Friday, November 21 to December 2. More than 80 percent of those were in people’s home across the city. Only half the number of burglaries were reported over the same time period last year.

Police say they see a rise in burglaries around the holidays and spring break when the university and Columbia Public Schools are on break.

Matt Spencer, Columbia Resident: “They came in through that window behind you and all that we could find that they took was the TV.”

Matt Spencer says his house was hit while he and his roommates were out of town. He tells me they made sure to lock all the doors before leaving, but did not lock the windows.

A few miles away, Columbia resident LaReese Hogan says she and her roommate were only gone for a few days and came back Friday to find several things stolen.

LaReese Hogan, Columbia Resident: “I noticed that my back door to my garage was kind of open. And when I entered the house and walked through and she wasn’t here, I went into her room and that’s when I discovered that her flat screen was gone, and then I immediately looked for the lock box and it was gone. Then I went in my room and I discovered that they had just tossed all my jewelry out.”

Hogan says the burglar got into the house through the garage door, which she left unlocked. She says next time she leaves her home, she will make sure to lock all the doors and alert the neighborhood watch to keep an eye on her home.

Latisha Stroer with the Columbia Police Department says asking somebody to check on your home is one of the best things you can do to help prevent a burglary when you go out of town.

Latisha Stroer, Columbia Police Department: “That’s why we do a lot of patrols during that time with officers in plain clothes, also in uniform, in unmarked cars, visibly out on patrol, looking through student housing areas, areas around town, as well as putting out information prior to students leaving.”

Police say even though the number of burglaries this year around Thanksgiving is higher than last, the total number for 2014 is much lower. As of the end of October, there have been about 560 burglaries which is about 140 fewer than 2013.

CPD says it is also helpful to set lights on timers to make it appear you are home, lock your doors and windows and stop the delivery of all mail and newspapers.

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