Christmas and New Year’s is meant to be a relaxing time with friends and families. For several Conway residents, it was instead a stressful time spent calling insurance companies in the wake of being victim to a home or vehicle break-in.
From the week of Christmas to a few days after New Year’s, at least 14 burglaries and 17 vehicle breaking or enterings were reported to Conway police. According to the incident reports, more than $29,000 in property was stolen and more than $2,000 in damage was reported.
It’s a trend that Conway police spokesperson La Tresha Woodruff said the department has come to expect during the holidays.
"Unfortunately, we do expect to see an increase in these types of crimes," she said. "People know you have valuables, so they go looking for them."
Without seeing final crime report numbers for 2013, which have not yet been finalized, Woodruff said she couldn’t say the 2013 holiday season was worse, or better, in terms of vehicle and home break-ins compared to previous years.
In the middle of the holiday theft spree, police arrested three teenagers in connection with a series of vehicle break-ins. The teens were arrested after an officer noticed the group riding in a white Kia that was reported stolen. Angelo Neal, 18, of Conway, was the only teen not a minor.
Each teen was charged with two counts of theft of property and five counts of breaking or entering, court documents show.
Woodruff said she knew of no other arrests made by officers in connection to other holiday time thefts.
"I’m sure [detectives are] looking into whether these kids had any connection to other breaking or entering reports," she said.
While an influx in thefts is expected during the holidays by police, Woodruff said there is still plenty Conway residents can do to keep from being the next victim.
"Lock your [vehicle] doors," Woodruff said. "In the majority of the breaking or entering reports, doors were not locked."
In one instance where doors were locked, Woodruff said valuables were in plain sight. Removing all valuables from sight, if left in the vehicle, is advised by police.
For residents who travel during the holidays, the police department provides home security checks, free of charge.
"If you’re going to be gone for the day, the weekend, or on vacation, go [to the Conway police website], fill out the home security check form, and officers will go to your home several times a day, and check the home."
Conway residents can find the form by going to www.conwaypd.org, scrolling to the bottom of the page, finding online forms and clicking on residence check. The form asks for such information as the address, date of departure, date of return, permission to enter back and side yards, and if any vehicles will be left at the home.
The form states 12 hours should be allowed prior to departure when submitting the form online.
In addition to taking advantage of the free residence check, Woodruff said residents should let neighbors know when they will be gone.
"Let them know what’s happening," she said. "Neighbors are always there. Officers can only be there at certain times. Your neighbors are your first line of defense."
(Staff writer Lee Hogan can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1246. Follow Lee Hogan on Twitter at twitter.com/LCD_LeeHogan. To comment on this and other stories, log on to thecabin.net.)