Don't let burglars steal your Christmas - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Don't let burglars steal your Christmas

December 15, 2005

Albany - Burglars are stealing Christmas from some people in Albany. There have been 18 burglaries in Albany since Monday, in all parts of the city. They're breaking in while no one's there and taking everything from DVD players and stereos to cell phones and presents.

Theresa Gatewood came home early Sunday morning, after working a 12 hour graveyard shift at Miller, to find her Elva Street home ransacked.

"I thought 'Oh my God someone has been in the house.' They went through every single square inch of my house," said Gatewood.

Thousands of dollars worth of goods were missing, including all of her Christmas presents.

"Toys, clothes, a video camera, shedder, diamond ring and emerald pendant," said Gatewood. "Then, they set stuff in the living room that they were going to come back to get. They had a car load the first time. I guess they were going to go drop that off and come back to get more."

Gatewood called the police. A few hours later, Albany police caught a couple teenagers trying to break into another house. In their pockets - Gatewood's jewelry. After questioning the teens, police found many of the other stolen gifts wrapped under Tavaress Jackson's tree. 18 year-old Jackson and three other juveniles were arrested. Most of her stuff was returned, and Gatewood had to unwrap all the presents herself.

"I feel good. The Albany Police, forever am I in their debt," she said.

The Grinches who tried to steal her Christmas are behind bars. But the burglary lead Gatewood to do something she'd never thought about before now.

"I've actually purchased a hand gun to keep in my home. And, I've never in my life owned one." She installing a security system too to protect her property and herself.

Police say to deter burglars, lock your doors and windows, hide all your presents and ask your neighbors to keep an eye on your house when you're not home.

Police are investigating which, if any, of these home burglaries are connected.

Some brazen thieves are also targeting an Albany church. In the past month, four air conditioning units have been stolen from St. Mary Missionary Baptist Church on Swift Street.

Reverend Verlon Robinson says it will cost the church several thousand dollars to replace the units. He just hopes the suspects are caught before the can get away with any more units.

"We don't want to get them replaced and soon as we put them back, someone come take them again. So we're trying to get them secured somehow," said Robinson. The pastor is considering building a small security fence around the units to deter thieves.

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