Take precautions to avoid becoming a summer victim

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 9, 2017

When kids are out of school during the summer they often have an abundance of free time, leading to boredom. During the summer, local law enforcement departments notice a spike in young adults and teenagers committing vandalism and burglaries, Picayune Police Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said.
“Most of the time, these activities don’t start out as crimes, but because they are not kept busy, these activities sometimes turn negative and kids begin to seek out things that they are not supposed to be doing,” Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said.
Whether it’s day or night, Tucker said these crimes are usually committed when least expected. He added that most kids do not participate in these illegal activities, but there are those few who do just because they are bored.
Magri said the most common crime that escalates during the summer is burglaries, from breaking into sheds, houses and most notably, cars.
“They want easy targets so they can be in and out without anyone noticing. They won’t break a window or do anything that might get them caught, but I would say about 90 percent of the burglary calls we get are because the victim did not lock their car or home while away,” Magri said.
An easy precaution is to lock doors whenever away from the house or car, even if it is just for a couple of minutes. Magri said these tips can prevent a burglary.
To avoid the chance of a car being broken into by force, Magri recommends keeping valuables out of sight. To discourage someone from breaking into a home, he recommends installing an audible alarm system and motion detecting lights around the house.
“An audible alarm will most likely make the suspect flee the scene because the police will immediately be notified about the break in. It will protect your house even if you are not home and prevent the crime from happening,” Magri said.
Also, since summer is a time to take vacations, Magri suggests leaving a light on and having a trusted neighbor check in on the house. Ask that neighbor to also check the mail since a full mailbox is a sign of an empty home.
“Criminals, young and old, will only target whatever is easy. So if you make it hard for them to break in or steal your valuables, they will move on to the next house or car and so on,” Magri said.
Vandalism to things like mailboxes, cars and businesses also increase during the summer.
However, when it comes to preventing teenagers and young adults from committing these crimes in the first place, Tucker said it is important for parents to get involved.
“Parents should take an interest in their kid’s interests and set them up with activities to get them busy during the summer. Whether it be softball leagues or any type of outdoor activity that can keep teenagers healthy and engaged, keeping young adults busy is the most critical part of avoiding these crimes before they start,” Tucker said.
Community organizations and civic clubs that provide a way for teens and young adults to volunteer are great opportunities to not only keep kids off the streets, but to build character that in return helps the community, Tucker said.
Anyone with eyewitness or other information concerning a crime is asked to call 911 immediately with a description of the person and what they are doing at the time to ensure a more speedy response by the police, Magri said.

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