"It's a noticeable increase over last year. Historically we see an ebb and flow in property crimes and as we ramp up towards Christmastime we always see an increase. This is much earlier than we've seen in the past," Hoffman explained.
Statistics from the Danville Police Department show that in the first two weeks of November, the town experienced 19 incidents where items were taken from a home or a car. During the same time last year, the town had only six incidents reported.
The value of the items taken has varied but there has been one common factor uniting the majority of these crimes: Hoffman said that in 80 percent of the incidents the houses or cars were unlocked.
"In two of the residential burglaries, people left their garage doors open all night." He added, "We strongly recommend people lock up their cars and houses. It's crime prevention. It's difficult to prevent these thefts when the homes and vehicles are unlocked."
The unincorporated areas around Danville have not been hit as hard as the town. Contra Costa Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said that they have seen fewer thefts than last year at this time. During the last four weeks, Lee said that those areas saw 15 thefts, down from 18 during the same period last year.
Lee and Hoffman both noted that residents can take strong precautions to keep themselves from being the victims of thieves.
"We encourage people to take valuable items out of vehicles or get them out of plain view," Hoffman said. "So many times we'll see a petty theft or burglary where someone has left a purse or a laptop out on the seat."
Lee said another way to prevent more of these incidents is by people keeping an eye on their neighborhoods. "If you see someone suspicious, let us know. We want to hear about these things."
Danville police are continuing to perform burglary suppressions throughout the area, with additional personnel on the streets to show they have a presence in the community. Hoffman said they do the suppressions a few times a month and try to vary the location and the time so that criminals cannot plan around the events.
Hoffman said that it boils down to using common sense and keeping one's eyes open. "With the economy slumping and an increase in crime during the holidays we just encourage people to be safe and protect their property."
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