By Joel Phelps
Christmastime in Arkadelphia means most students from both universities are leaving town for the break, and many working families will also be leaving town to visit relatives for the holidays.
Unfortunately for renters and homeowners alike, there are real-life “Home Alone” criminals out there like Marv Murchins and Harry Lyme.
But instead of rigging a clothes iron to a pull cord light switch or tarring the steps to the back door to ward off would-be home invaders, Arkadelphia police encourage residents to take real-life precautionary measures to protect their home and belongings.
Police Chief Jason “Shorty” Jackson told The Arkadelphian that the week before and after Christmas has historically been when police respond to many reports of residential and vehicular burglaries.
“It’s everywhere, not just in Arkadelphia,” Jackson said of the spike in holiday break-ins. The chief said he personally took a report on Thursday of a vehicle burglary in which the thief made off with a firearm. The victim had left his pistol inside the vehicle, with the doors unlocked, and when he returned to the car all that was left behind was the holster.
“We’ve historically had apartment break-ins in this town, especially with all the college students leaving for the semester break,” Jackson said. “We always try to remind them to secure their doors and not to leave large amounts of cash in their apartments.”
Holiday shoppers, too, are easy targets for thieves. “Around Christmas, people leave gifts in their car, and with it also being hunting season people are notorious for leaving firearms in their vehicle,” he said. “If you’re out shopping, especially in other towns, make sure you put your gifts in the trunk, where they’re not visible through the windows. Don’t leave purses in plain sight, whether you’re at a shopping mall or at home. Remove all temptation if possible.
“You would be amazed at how many people leave their cars unlocked. They need to make it part of their nightly ritual: brush your teeth, lock your car, go to bed.”
One of the best theft deterrents, Jackson said, is motion-activated exterior lights. “If you have to leave your vehicle outside, in front of your house, use a motion light,” he said.
Another option is paid for with tax dollars: call the Arkadelphia Police Department and request additional patrol for your home if you plan to be out of town. “You can always call for extra patrol,” Jackson said. “Your home or apartment will get checked as often as our officers are by there, and it gets logged each time it’s checked.”
To request additional patrol, call (870) 246-4545 and leave your name, address and a phone number of you or a trusted neighbor; that way, police can contact someone if something does happen.
Police also encourage residents who stay in town during the holidays to keep a vengeful eye out for suspicious activity. “Keep your eyes open,” Jackson said. “Help your neighbors out and report anyone you don’t recognize in your neighborhood.”
While Jackson isn’t suggesting neighbors approach any malefactors — like “Old Man” Marley did when he rescued little Kevin McCallister from the Wet Bandits — he does recommend reporting anything suspicious to the authorities: “We’ve all got to watch out for each other.”