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Burglaries on rise in Jefferson
Police investigating rash of car break-ins
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Business owners and homeowners who would like to request additional patrols near their property while they are out of town or an environmental check by the Jefferson Police Department may call 706-367-5231 or visit their Web site.

JEFFERSON — The onset of the holidays have brought something besides good cheer — more burglaries.

“Times are hard out there and some people are willing to do anything to make a quick buck,” said Joe Wirthman, Jefferson police chief.

In the last five weeks, Jefferson police officers have made nine arrests associated with 10 different cases, netting more than 50 different charges. There are about 15 other burglary cases that the department is investigating, Wirthman says.

“There have been a lot of car burglaries,” Wirthman said. “They are more crimes of opportunity, where the thieves are taking things out of unlocked cars, not smashing windows to gain entry.”

The department has also arrested a person that is suspected to be connected to breaking into more than 30 storage units.

Jefferson isn’t the only place where burglaries have increased. Hall County and Gainesville law enforcement agencies also have noted that burglaries have increased by around 40 percent over last year.

According to Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper, the suspects have been mostly juveniles and the majority of the crimes occurred in residential areas while homeowners at work.

In Jefferson, the suspects — all Jackson County residents — have been at least 18 years old and the crimes tend to occur at night, Wirthman says.

“A lot of these people are prowling at night — our road patrol caught the last three (arrested suspects) in the act,” said Wirthman.

“Another suspect was caught on video using a credit card he had stolen from a car.”

Although the police department continues to patrol the city and investigate crimes, Wirthman says there are things that residents can do to protect themselves and their property.

“People should lock their doors and keep anything of value in their cars out of plain view, the same as with a house. And if you are going out of town for a day or two, you may want to ask a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on things also,” Wirthman said.

“They can also call up to the station and we can get an officer out to do an environmental check of their property. The officer can suggest things that the owner could improve on to help deter criminal activity.”

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