Beware of holiday thieves

Published 8:33 pm Friday, November 23, 2012

Citizens are being urged to secure their homes and property following a rash of burglaries in the Town Point area as the holiday season begins.

In recent weeks, burglaries and larcenies from vehicles and homes in several Portsmouth communities have been on the rise, according to the Portsmouth Police Department.

Televisions, laptops, iPads and Xboxes seem to be among the items most sought after by thieves, the department reports in a press release.

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“Each item is marked clearly with a serial number when purchased,” the release states. “Take a few minutes and document the number, or photograph the number and put it in a safe place away from the item.

“If you become a victim of theft, provide the serial number to the police officer. It may assist in quickly locating your valuables.”

The department has highlighted five Portsmouth neighborhoods that thieves have targeted more than others in the past 30 days. Town Point, just across the city line in the College Drive area, is included.

“In most of the incidents, the suspects pried or forced doors and windows open,” the release states. “In several cases the suspects used large pry tools.”

As a result of the heightened criminal activity, Portsmouth police officers are increasing their presence in the affected areas during the holidays.

Uniformed patrol officers, community services officers and detectives are all involved in the effort. They are patrolling and available at various times, day and night.

Police recommend photographing items such as jewelry and storing descriptions of possessions in a safe place. “If the item is later discovered, you will have proof of ownership,” the release states.

Things to do to avoid thefts include:

  • Always lock doors and windows.
  • Leave outside lights on at night.
  • Remove or trim shrubs close to the home that can provide hiding places.
  • Put an inside light on a timer when you’re away and have someone watch your home.
  • Document serial numbers and take photographs of items and keep receipts.
  • Don’t leave boxes that clearly display expensive items on the curb for trash pick-up — break them down and put them in your can.
  • Don’t leave gifts where they are visible from the outside of the home.
  • Only open doors to known people
  • Don’t publicly disclose purchases or gifts received.
  • While shopping, lock items in your trunk — don’t leave them visible in the car.