SIDNEY — During the hustle and bustle of Christmas time, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart reminds readers to be conscientious in protecting your home from theft.
“What we are asking people to do, is really, watch what you are doing. Be a good neighbor. Keep track of your neighbors and the neighbors keep track of you, this time of the year, as well as all times of the year,” Lenhart said during his weekly interview
He warned that three-fourths of robberies are facilitated through unlocked doors and windows. A burglary, he said, is theft from a locked building.
So far this year in the county, Lenhart said, there has been 52 reported burglaries. Forty-eight burglaries were reported in the county in 2017, he said. In 2016, Lenhart said, the number of reported burglaries in Sidney was 206, in Piqua there were 135, and Troy had 145.
However, he noted that only about half of robberies, nationwide, are reported. He gave an example of a local church that admitted to having a previous theft prior to the one that was reported, but they were too embarrassed to report it. Also, they told the Sheriff they wanted to welcome everyone, “saints and sinners alike.”
Lenhart said, “We want all citizens and all businesses and groups to report the thefts so we have a good feel for what is going on.”
To help protect homes from theft, Lenhart offered the following tips:
• Be aware of your home and neighborhood;
• Request the Sheriff’s Office to conduct a vacation home check if away from home for an extended period of time;
• Do not leave a note on the door saying you are not home;
• Have lights, including Christmas lights, set on a timer to come on and go off;
• Have adequate outdoor lighting. Use motion detectors to indicate someone is pulling in the drive or moving about the house;
• Do not let a stranger in the home, especially without identity;
• Do not let a stranger come in to use the phone. If you want to help, dial their contact number for them from the inside of the house;
• Make sure your house appears lived in if you are away from your home. Have the newspaper and mail picked up, and even have someone move the snow around so the home appears occupied;
• Only deal with local, reputable businesses if work needs to be done;
• Keep valuable items, including jewelry and guns in a safe. Don’t leave these items out where they can be easily seen;
• Keep curtains closed to hide the interior of the home, the Christmas tree and wrapped gifts. However, Lenhart recommends not keeping presents under the tree in front of a window that can be seen from the outside;
• Consider installing an alarm system, whether from a security alarm company or from the store to be installed yourself;
• Do not leave keys in vehicles in the garage.
• Do not leave keys “hidden” under a floor mat, in a flower pot or the window seal, as they can easily be found.
• Leave a TV or radio set on a timer so that a vacant home is not silent.
“Make it as difficult as you can on the burglar,” Lenhart said. “And if someone comes to your door, don’t be afraid to ask for identification. And that’s the same if someone comes to your door and asks to use the phone. Don’t let them in the door; don’t let them use your phone. You get the number and call for them.”
“And God forbid, if your house or outside building is burglarized, or a theft, do not touch; do not go in,” Lenhart said. “Call the police immediately. Don’t clean up. Let us have a chance to look at the crime scene and go from there.”
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.