Deputies on ‘Grinch Patrol’ in Cherokee Co.

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CHEROKEE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – It’s another day on the job for Sgt. Nicholas Federico, who’s worked at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office for about 12 years. 

This time our 7News crew was along for the ride as he helps stop Grinches from stealing holiday cheer from hard working people in Cherokee County.

“More cars out here to be visible and vigilant in these communities,” said Sgt. Federico. “I think it would give people a sense of more security.”

The sheriff’s office puts eight to ten extra deputies on patrol through Christmas Eve. 

“We historically saw there was a pattern that our burglaries increased, our larcenies increased in the month of December,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller.  

Sheriff Mueller said ‘Grinch Patrols’ are a way to combat those crimes.

“We take the deputies who are off-duty – we allow them to sign up – they can be paid overtime, and then we take officers who are assigned to different divisions – does not require any overtime,” he said. “We’ve seen the [crime] numbers drop down.”

He said so far it’s been worth it. 

“Nothing more disheartening than to go to a home that’s been burglarized and a family has lost all the presents underneath the Christmas tree,” Mueller said. 

The sheriff said these extra deputies respond to calls, which reduces response times, and patrol communities to keep an eye out. 

“Just anything deemed out of the way,” said Sgt. Federico. “Might have had a burglary in that area the last week or two.” 

The sheriff’s office says they also patrol communities deputies don’t typically frequent and outlying areas near the state line.

“A lot of those people try to dip in, steal their stuff, and then go back across the line,” said Sgt. Federico. 

They said it’s and effort to prevent crimes that can hurt families even more this time of year. 

“You just try to make a difference.. try to be out there to help people,” Sgt. Federico said. 

When patrolling neighborhoods, deputies also keep an eye out for homes that are ‘soft targets’ and educate property owners on how to better protect themselves. 

The Sheriff’s Office shared the following tips on how to help protect your home: 

Get a Home Security System:

One of the most important things that someone can do to decrease the chance of experiencing property crime is installing security technology such as a burglar alarm system or security cameras. The simplest, most effective action you can take to prevent future burglaries and protect your family is to install a monitored home security system. Security systems alert you when an intruder enters your home, and they have loud alarms that can scare intruders away before they can do any real damage. These systems also notify local authorities so they can investigate why the alarm was activated. Homeowners always remember to set your alarms and activate camera systems. Post signs in your yard, on your doors and windows letting everyone know you have a security system. Let everyone who comes on your property know to smile because they are on camera. Even the purchase of “Beware of Dog” signs serve as cheap alternative to security systems that can be posted along your driveway or around your house.

Don’t Mention Travel Plans Online:

Whether you announce your big family Christmas vacation on Facebook or you and a friend discuss an upcoming family Christmas trip at a coffee shop, mentioning travel in public forums is dangerous. In these types of situations, anyone could overhear you and know that your home is going to stand empty for a few days, creating the perfect opportunity to target your home. It’s especially important to emphasize to children that when they mention outings innocently on their social networking pages, they are opening the door to strangers who might want to burglarize your home while you’re out.

Get Deadbolt Locks:

Deadbolts make burglary difficult and burglars don’t like difficult, they are looking for easy and quick targets. The more time a burglar spends in your home, the higher the chances are that they will be caught in the act. Deadbolts on doors make your home a more difficult target to break into, but it is important to purchase high-quality locks that can’t be easily compromised. Locks for exterior doors should be grade one or grade two locks, as these locks are more likely to resist a burglar’s lock-picking attempts and are less likely to give in to tampering. Good quality deadbolts will also have a beveled casing that will reduce the likelihood of the lock being compromised by channel lock pliers that are used with other lock types to sheer off the cylinder pins in the lock.

Keep Your Valuables in a Home Safe:

Getting a safe is one of the most important steps homeowners can take to secure important documents and priceless possessions. While a security alarm is a great way to protect the home against burglary, there is no assurance that a burglar will not somehow find a way to enter your home. All it takes is for one family member to forget to lock a door and all of the home security efforts in the world won’t make a difference. While safes may take up some precious storage space, they are the best way to ensure that important documents and other valuables stay out of the hands of home invaders. Once inside your home, burglars want to take valuables and leave in minutes; this leaves no time for breaking into a safe. Remember to anchor safes to the wall or floor in your home. 

Keep a Record of Valuable Personal Property:

As a homeowner or renter, you should always carry a degree of insurance to help protect you against losses that may occur as the result of a disaster or theft. Most companies that provide this type of insurance prompt their customers to always keep a record of their valuable belongings. This practice ensures that if your home is targeted and you lose any valuable property then the police can identify it and possibly recover your property and you can be compensated under your insurance policy if not recovered. While keeping a record of valuable personal property is not a deterrent method for burglars, it’s an important step to take to protect yourself in case of a burglary. Take pictures or video of your valuables. Know the model numbers, serial numbers and purchase prices of your most expensive items. The insurance company will want this information if it’s stolen. Police can enter these numbers into a national database increasing the likelihood your items could be recovered anywhere in the country.

Maintain a Well-Lit Property:

Burglars do not work in well-lit areas because they have a much higher chance of being caught than in the dark. Make sure that outdoor lighting is always functioning well to maintain a safe property, having a well-lit front porch means nothing if the back side of a house is not lit at all, so perform a full audit to determine the areas of your property that need more lighting. Most home burglaries occur during daylight hours while families are working. Thieves know that the penalties are more severe for breaking into a dwelling at night than during the day. So, they are most likely to target your home during the day. 

Monitor Mail, Newspaper and Package Delivery:

The presence of mail or newspaper buildup is a huge tipoff to burglars. Place a hold on mail delivery or have a trusted neighbor collect mail if you are going to be away for an extended period. Keep in mind that burglary is not the only concern when it comes to mail. All of those credit card offers and other secure information can be used for identity theft in the wrong hands. Consider getting a locked mailbox to prevent identity theft. Consider getting Christmas packages delivered to a relative who is likely to be home all day, packages left unattended around the home are very inviting targets for thieves. Consider asking a neighbor or relative to get any packages delivered to your home during the day and keep them safe until you can pick them up.

Place Timing Devices On Your Lamps, Radio or Television:

Timing devices may seem like a rather old method for deterring burglars, but it is a method that has proven successful. So successful, in fact, that it has been built on as time has progressed. Timing devices are great tools to use whether or not you’re on vacation because they switch on lighting or technology within the home even when no one is home. One of the best ways to use timing devices is to program them for normal times of activity when your family is out of town. Setting timers to turn on lights, turn down blinds, and turn on radios or televisions is a way to give the impression that the normal daily routine is in progress even when no one is home, deterring potential burglars. Timers also make a safer home for those who live alone and those whose partners are frequently out of town. A loud radio or television will deter a thief if he thinks you are in your home.

Secure Sliding Doors:

Sliding doors are a particularly easy way for home invaders to access your home because they are rarely fitted with secure locks or other security mechanisms. One affordable means of securing a sliding door is to place a wood block in the sliding track to prevent the door from being opened. While many home security stores sell more advanced products, most people find that this simple and affordable technique works just as well.

Use Your Garage:

Burglars often observe properties they plan to burglarize to detect patterns of when the home is active and when it is empty. If your home has a garage, it’s a good idea to keep the car inside the garage. Otherwise, your car sits out in the open where any passerby can see when your home, making your house an easier target. Keep garage doors closed do not show all the thieves what is available in your garage. Remember they are looking for easy targets.

If Your House Is Broken Into:

  • Don’t go into the house. If you’ve already walked in and discover a burglary, leave immediately. The thieves may still be inside, and it’s not worth your life to find out. Let law enforcement clear your home!
  • Call 911 from your cell phone or from a neighbor’s house. Get a safe distance so you can observe the house and relay any information to 911 operators.

Working together we can keep the Grinches at bay and enjoy a Merry Christmas with family and friends. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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