Holiday burglaries on the decline in Columbia

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COLUMBIA – Home burglaries in Columbia seem to be slowly decreasing after a spike that lasted almost seven years.

Back in 2009, Columbia Police Department first noticed an increase in burglaries, especially over the holidays, but last December marked a record low.

“We noticed a huge increase in burglaries back in 2009 and started putting out prevention information prior to breaks because everyone is off at the same time.” Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said. “Especially during Thanksgiving break, Christmas break and Spring break.”

Stroer said numbers over this Thanksgiving were less than those in 2015.

“This Thanksgiving we had 19 burglaries this year and the year before we had 23.”

Stroer said one reason for such a spike is because so many people leave town during these times.

“When we started looking at those numbers, we realized it’s because we had the students leave town during those times, as well as Columbia Public schools were out, Stephens College, MU, Columbia College, as well as all faculty at those locations,” Stroer said.

MU student Ana Morales was burglarized around this time last year.

“We have a sliding glass door in the back of our house, and we didn’t know this, but apparently they are really easy to jimmy open even if they are locked. 

Stroer said when you do lock something, make sure the locking mechanism works.

“We did see last Christmas break where people had locked the door or window, and the locking mechanism did not work in the first place.”

Morales said her lock did work, but she found out sliding glass doors need to be reinforced.

Stroer said to reinforce a sliding glass door lock, you can slide in a wooden bar to prevent the door from being opened.

“We didn’t realize putting that stick in was so important,” Morales said.

Stroer said to make sure you are using a thick piece of wood to reinforce the door.

“The problem with metal is that it bends, so you definitely want to use wood.” Stroer said.

The Columbia Police Department says other precautions you can take before leaving town include setting your lights on a timer and closing your curtains to make sure people can’t look inside your home.  

Morales said ever since last year, she takes all the precautions she can.

“When we got burglarized we didn’t have an alarm, but now we do, so whenever we leave for break we are totally sure to put it on, there’s door sensors and motion detectors,” Morales said.  

Stroer said CPD also has officers who work overtime during the breaks, patrolling areas where they believe burglaries will occur.

“This year, again we are putting out the information to everybody in Columbia for prevention, to try and help us to prevent burglaries from occurring,” Stroer said.

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