The Grinch who stole Christmas came early this year.
A Batesburg woman reported to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office on Monday that someone kicked in the back door of her home and stole presents that had been wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree, according to a sheriff's report. The items included a video game system, games, clothing and jewelry.
The incident was reported around 8:30 p.m. at a home on Atlantic Coast Boulevard.
The victim said the television in her bedroom had been tampered with, and officers were able to lift a partial print from the screen, according to the report. She could not provide serial or model numbers for the stolen electronics.
The Sheriff's Office has not seen an increase in residential burglaries around the holidays, and vehicle break-ins are normally higher during the summer months, said Capt. Troy Elwell.
But, a few simple precautions will ensure you don't have any uninvited guests in your home during the holidays, he said.
Elwell encourages residents to make sure the doors and windows in the home are locked and to keep shrubs around the home trimmed short. Also, keep some exterior lights on during the night.
“Landscaping lights not only make your house look good at night, they also add security,” he said.
If you plan to leave your home for an extended time during the holidays, stop mail delivery to your home while you're gone, or have a trusted neighbor pick it up along with any newspapers, Elwell said.
If you get a hot, new electronic as a Christmas gift, Elwell said to make sure you jot down any serial or model numbers for each product in case it is stolen.
“We cannot identify most electronics, even if recovered, without serial numbers,” Elwell said. “It's as easy as snapping a picture of it with your camera or phone, but it makes all the difference.”
He added that placing packaging for electronics outside your home for disposal could attract potential burglars and that empty boxes or packaging should be placed at the street the day of collection and not the night before.
If you're out and about in your vehicle, make sure you lock your vehicle's doors and park in a well-lit area to avoid becoming a target for thieves, Elwell said.
The Sheriff's Office has a robbery task force that is already patrolling to help keep businesses safe during the holidays, Elwell said, adding that they will have greater focus on residential areas during the day when most people are at work.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard.
He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.
Tips to keep your home safe during the holidays
To keep your home and vehicle safe during the holidays, the Sheriff's Office recommends the following tips:
• Make sure doors and windows are locked.
• Keep shrubs around your home trimmed short.
• Turn exterior lights on during the night.
• If you plan to leave your home, make arrangements to have your mail and newspaper delivery stopped or picked up by a trusted neighbor.
• Write down serial numbers for electronic products, and place empty packaging at the street the day of trash collection.
• Make sure your vehicle doors and windows are locked, and park in a well-lit area.