"Winter break" burglaries in Columbia down significantly this season

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COLUMBIA- Burglaries typically go up during the holiday season, as people leave town to go visit friends and family.

But this past winter break in Columbia, the number of burglaries plummeted.

Columbia Police Department reported 35 burglaries between Dec. 16 and Jan. 17.

That's a 44 percent drop from the previous winter break, and a 67 percent drop from the '14-'15 winter break.

In fact, 35 is the lowest winter break burglary total since 2009, according to CPD. The second lowest is 63, which was the number for the 2015-16 break.

The '14-'15 break had 105 burglaries, the highest number in the last eight years.

CPD Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said these lower numbers are a result of a long-term effort by the department.

"We've been working for the last eight years on burglary prevention," Stroer said. "We put out a lot of information before all the breaks: the winter break, Thanksgiving break, and spring break."

One of the 35 burglaries took place at local restaurant Cafe Berlin.

"Being violated in like that our space is a traumatizing experience for anyone," owner Eli Gay said.

However, Gay said even though his business was burglarized, he's happy the numbers are moving in the right direction.

"It's nice to hear that the overall trend is trending downwards for break-ins," Gay said.

The trend applies to burglaries over the entire year, too.

According to the release, the burglary UCR for Columbia in 2016 was 530, also the lowest in eight years.

Stroer said some big keys to avoid getting burglarized included setting your lights and television on timers, canceling your newspapers, and writing down serial numbers for your expensive items.

"The main thing is to keep your house looking like it's still lived in," Stroer said.

Residents can also have officers check on their home while they're away by filling out a "watch in passing" form on the CPD website.