In less than a week, thousands of people are leaving mid-Missouri, whether it’s for the holidays or when the university goes on break.
So the Columbia Police Department is warning residents of the threat of holiday burglaries.
With burglary numbers on the increase and plenty of students and families heading home for a winter holiday or break, CPD wants to provide tips on how to prevent home invasions or burglaries.
The numbers (through October) are up nearly 150 calls from this time last year. There have been 701 burglaries this year, compared with 564 last year.
“We just have to make sure that we are taking all preventative measures to make sure we’re not the next victim,” said Bryana Larimer, a public information specialist with CPD.
Larimer can’t confirm at this time why the numbers are increasing, but she says there has been a trend.
“We’re seeing a majority of those are due to unlocked doors, windows and, in some cases, unlocked vehicles,” she said. “The burglars are getting into the vehicles and pressing the garage door opener and getting in through the garage door.”
She said this can also happen even when someone is home and forgets to lock their door.
“We had gotten information that a lot of the burglaries that were happening at that point were when occupants were inside asleep,” she said. “So these burglars are very brazen sometimes. A lot of those were non-forced entry.”
Columbia can often make for an easy target.
“Burglars are aware that we are a college town and so they’re hitting areas where they think there are going to be a high concentration of students,” said Larimer.
So the department recommends the easiest way to prevent a burglary is to lock the doors, whether you’re going to be home for the holidays or heading out of state.
“Burglary is an opportunistic crime, you know going around checking doors to homes, checking vehicles,” Larimer said. “That’s what those type of career burglars, they often look for.”
Burglars often keep an eye on certain neighborhoods as well, such as the south side of Columbia where many students live.
Larimer suggests changing up a routine so burglars can’t figure out the exact time you’ll be home.
But if you are going home for the holidays, police say it doesn’t stop at just locking doors and windows. They recommend:
— Never posting your plans to leave on social media.
— Having someone watch your home or apartment and get mail or packages for you so it doesn’t look like you’re not home.
— If you’re coming home from a trip with larger packages in hand, like electronics, don’t leave the empty boxes on the curb for burglars to see.
ABC17 News checked in with Jefferson City police as well and their numbers aren’t as different from year to year: The city has only seen a slight increase in the call numbers.