Theft is by far the most common crime committed during the Yuletide season in almost every venue in the nation, if not the entire world. Thieves are, in my opinion, basically lazy and cowardly opportunists, lacking enthusiasm for legitimate employment and possessing the conscience of the lowest form of life.
I call thieves cowards because their targets are largely women, the elderly and others whom they see as being vulnerable and unable to mount an effective defense of their person or property.
They are opportunists who prowl in search of a vulnerable target such as an unlocked home, vehicle or storage building. Purses and handbags left unattended in a shopping cart, however briefly, are a particularly inviting target. Additionally, handbags carried loosely over the arm or hand make an enticing target for a conscienceless lowlife looking for an easy mark.
The cowardly thief will target homes and businesses when unoccupied to avoid being confronted during the crime. This type of criminal likes the obscurity of darkness and stealth. Light and noise are his enemy. Combat this blight on humanity by locking doors, lighting the property and keeping valuables secured and out of sight. Take it, hide it, lock it!
While not a personal concern for the average shopper, shoplifting is more prevalent during the holidays. Large crowds and distracted shopkeepers and clerks make shoplifting easier than at any other time of year. Often, thieves will work in pairs; one to distract the employee while the other pilfers merchandise.
Robberies increase during the holidays. This thief is more daring and bold than the common b-flat thief. Those intent on gaining wealth by robbery are well aware that shoppers carry more cash while shopping during the holidays and they are encouraged by the inherent distraction of crowds.
This blight on humanity uses a weapon for intimidation or to inflict bodily harm while stealing from unwary citizens and businesses. To avoid being victimized by this brand of criminal, shop in numbers. Avoid unlighted areas and don’t carry large amounts of cash.
Both residential and vehicular burglaries increase exponentially during the holidays. Thieves are keenly aware that shoppers leave expensive gifts inside vehicles while they continue shopping in various venues and leave those gifts inside homes when unoccupied.
Prevention is easy and a common-sense approach. Leave no purchases inside a vehicle or your residence in plain view, lock your vehicle and home and take the keys with you.
An accomplished burglar can surreptitiously enter your vehicle or home in mere seconds. Even an inept thief can enter in short order.
While scams surface throughout the year, they are more common during the holidays. Why? Central Texans are a generous populace, loaded with charity and good will and eager to share with those less fortunate.
Phony charities abound during the Yule season. Anyone can decorate a coffee can with a red ribbon and a made-up charity name to solicit donations. Know the charity to which you donate.
Holiday deals that seem too good to be true are most likely just that — too good to be true.
No one needs to tell Covites about the increased incidence of domestic violence during the holiday season. We’ve seen it in stark reality. The causes are myriad, but as families gather for holiday festivities, disagreements are bound to arise and fester. Add alcohol to the mix and you have the recipe for violence. When drugs or alcohol are involved, judgment becomes impaired and those who imbibe irresponsibly may say or do things they would not consider when sober.
Be tolerant of one another and respect personal opinions. Remove yourself from a potential confrontation and make an effort to mend fences. ’Tis the season to be jolly!
Eleven assaults were reported this week. Of these, seven included family violence.
- An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Nov. 29 in the 1400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
- An assault by contact was reported Dec. 2 in the 500 block of Lincoln Avenue.
- An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Dec. 2 in the 200 block of South Seventh Street.
- A sexual assault was reported Dec. 2. Locations of sexual crimes and crimes against children are omitted to protect the identity of the victims.
- Reckless injury to a child with serious bodily injury was reported Dec. 3.
- Assault by choking/family violence was reported Dec. 4 in the 100 block of Horseshoe Drive.
- Assault by contact/family violence was reported Dec. 4 in the 600 block of North 11th Street.
- Two counts of assault by contact/family violence were reported Dec. 5 in the 200 block of Northern Dove Lane.
- An assault was reported Dec. 4 in the 2000 block of Carmen Street.
- An assault by contact was reported Dec. 4 in the 1100 block of Victoria Circle.
Thirteen thefts/burglaries were reported this week. This number reflects the historical upward trend during the holiday season.
- A theft of a campaign sign was reported Nov. 29 in the 300 block of Lutheran Church Road.
- The theft of a tire was reported Nov. 30 in the 200 block of Dewald Street.
- The theft of debit cards and a cellphone was reported Nov. 30 in the 900 block of Laurie Lane.
- The theft of cellphones was reported Dec. 1 from a retailer in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
- A wallet and its contents was reported stolen from a vehicle Dec. 1 in the 200 block of Halter Drive.
- A theft of movies, games and currency was reported Dec. 1 in the 200 block of East Halstead Avenue.
- A theft of currency and fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Dec. 3 in the 200 block of Judy Lane.
- The theft of multiple bicycles was reported Dec. 3 in the 200 block of mesquite Circle.
- The theft of a purse and jewelry was reported Dec. 3 in the 900 block of Courtney Lane.
- An attempted burglary of a residence was reported Dec. 3 in the 1300 block of Eagle Trail.
- An attempted burglary of a residence was reported Dec. 3 in the 500 block of Geri Drive.
- An attempted burglary of a residence and the theft of a grill were reported Dec. 3 in the 600 block of South Third Street.
- A bicycle was reported stolen Dec. 3 in the 900 block of Chalk Street.
- Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Nov. 30 in the 400 block of Atkinson Avenue.
- Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Dec. 1 in the 3000 block of Sundown Lane.
- Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Dec. 3 in the 3100 block of Colorado Drive.
- Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Dec. 5 in the 1300 block of high Chaparral Drive.
- Criminal mischief was reported Nov. 30 in the 1200 block of South Seventh Street. A tire was damaged.
- Criminal mischief resulting in property damage was reported Dec. 5 in the 100 block of East Hogan Drive. Damage to vehicle paint valued at $1,000 was reported.
- A second report of criminal mischief was reported Nov. 30 in the 1200 block of South Seventh Street. Tires valued at $2,500 were reportedly damaged.
- Criminal mischief was reported Dec. 2 in the 1000 block of Industrial Avenue.
- The discharge of a firearm within city limits was reported Nov. 30 in the 300 block of east Avenue E.
- Reckless damage was reported Dec. 1 in the 1100 block of Risen Star Lane.
- Reckless damage was reported Dec. 4 in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
- Debit card abuse was reported Dec. 1 in the 900 block of Laurie Lane.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Dec. 5 in the 300 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.