Sgt. David Roberts knows first-hand what it’s like to be a burglary victim.
About five weeks ago, his wife came home in the afternoon to find that the back door of their home had been kicked in and the house burglarized.
Roberts, with the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office, said TVs, laptops and “old junk guns” were among the items stolen, along with a four-wheeler from his barn.
“Other burglaries (occurred) up and down my street earlier this year, so I wasn’t surprised. I was more frustrated and mad than anything,” he said.
Roberts is not the only person who has been a victim.
The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office had more than 40 burglaries of a habitation in November, while the Smith County Sheriff’s Office ran about 190 property crimes in October 2012 — close to the same number as October 2013, according to the respective entities.
In Tyler, 949 auto burglaries — 116 of which were in December — and 830 residential burglaries were reported for 2012, according to data from the Tyler Police Department.
Law enforcement officials encourage people to take precautions this holiday season and throughout the year.
Smith County Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Moore said more burglaries and thefts tend to occur when temptation is there.
“If someone leaves valuables out in their vehicle in the open where they can be seen, especially with no security system, of course temptation will be there,” he said.
He said it’s also always wise, if possible, to have a burglar alarm at home, and a lot of times, the sound of it will deter people.
“It’s what you do to prevent these things — the preventive measures you take — which determine how much, if at all, you’ll be affected by burglary,” Moore said.
He said people should be looking out for themselves and each other throughout the year. And residents can help form a neighborhood watch group if one is not already in place, he said.
Capt. John Raffield, with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, and Roberts also addressed safety precautions.
Raffield said people have the option of putting up game cameras at their home, but they have to be hidden well so thieves don’t see them.
People should also be more mindful of vehicles that might be at their house or a neighbor’s home, he said, and people can use the voice recorder on their phone to help.
“License plates, vehicle and people descriptions can easily be recorded using the voice recording functions on smart phones,” Raffield wrote in an email. “Dictating the information can be easier than attempting to write something down while driving around the neighborhoods and communities.”
Additionally, Roberts said, residents should write down serial numbers for their equipment and “pay attention to your surroundings.”
“If you feel something is not right, trust your gut,” Roberts said.