MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Neighbors in Madison County are getting frustrated by the number of break-ins they are seeing in their communities.
Madison County deputies confirm a handful of neighborhoods in eastern Madison County have reported burglaries and thefts. They say it isn't just a problem there this time of year though; it's happening across the county and all over North Alabama.
"During the holiday season, the Christmas season, burglaries and thefts are going to pick up anywhere. It's just, there are more things out there with the opportunity for thieves to steal them and turn them around for money for their bad habits and illegal activities," said Lt. Donny Shaw, MCSO Public Information Officer.
He said thieves take advantage of opportunities like unlocked car and home doors, loose fencing, and packages left out in the open or in vehicles. He said thieves may be more enticed by window displays including Christmas trees with many gifts visible from outside.
Neighbors tell us they are turning to the app, Nextdoor, to share concerns and raise awareness.
"I can not tell you how many updates this app sends me on daily basis right now with the topic "Break In" or "Car Break-in" or "Suspicious Cars", "Packages Stolen" etc. this has GOT to STOP! This is getting way out of hand," one viewer wrote in an email to us.
She added, "Take back our neighborhoods, put more patrolling in our area, it is the Holidays and it is peak timing for this but regardless of the time of year, we should not allow for someone to take our sense of security in our homes/neighborhoods."
Another woman, who tells us she was a victim of a burglary, spoke with WHNT News 19 by phone. She said she learned post-break in that there were many ways she could have secured her property that she wishes she had realized. Now, she says it is hard to sleep at night as they work to make their home safe again.
As people call for action, Shaw said shift commanders are constantly reminding deputies on patrol to visit affected neighborhoods as time allows.
"Whenever there is time available, we will go and saturate those areas to try to find the people who are victimizing people," he said.
He added that a recent arrest is expected to bring leads, and possibly connect deputies to stolen property, following the recent crimes.
Neighbors are asking for vigilance, and the sheriff's office is thanking them for their attention to this problem. Still, deputies remind people to report the crimes to agencies too.
"It's great to share the information, but you also have to contact your local law enforcement agency," he said.
He adds that there are multiple ways you can help yourself this time of year:
- Keep gifts and shopping bags out of sight
- Lock doors
- Draw the blinds when you aren't home
- Park in a lighted area
Lt. Shaw recommends starting a 9 p.m. routine of doing these things.
"Get your valuables out of your car, roll the windows up, and lock the doors," he added. "The 9 p.m. routine is simple."