Special Report: Desperate Times - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: Desperate Times

By Ben Roberts - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - How safe are you in your own home or at your corner convenience store?

As more people struggle to make ends meet, more criminals are targeting homes and businesses hoping to get money and hoping not to get caught.

It's a problem you need to be aware of, so you can protect yourself from crooks dealing with desperate times.

Judge Loring Gray pretty much saw it all during his 23 years on the Superior Court bench.

"Keep thinking that and then turn the next corner and there's something new," he said.

He dealt with crooks and crime victims every day but never thought he'd be a victim of crime Right in his own home.

"It was in the middle of the day. They kicked out this window right here. "It makes you feel like you've been violated."

But that's exactly what happened when burglars broke in one day when no one was home.

Violated and angry that someone damaged his home and stole jewelry and guns and whatever else they could stuff in a duffle bag. "I cannot abide someone taking what is not theirs and what they have not earned."

But that is happening more often.  There were 484 burglaries in Albany from October through January.  That's a 7% increase over the year before.

The jump is more dramatic when it comes to robberies.  They're up from 70 to 110, a jump of more than 57%.

The reason we're seeing more of this?  It may have something to do with the economy.

"Difficult times lead to desperate measures for individuals," Gray said.

Police agree, when times are tough, more people turn to crimes they think offer quick cash.

"When people start losing jobs or money is getting short, they look for other means of trying to make ends meet," said Lt. James Williams of the Albany Police Dept.

That means businesses need to be on the lookout for robbers.  The best way to deter them, or to catch them after they strike, is to have a good video surveillance system.

"Video is about the best tool you're working with," said Williams. "We'll make recommendations on what needs to be done such as lighting or what type of windows, what type of locks to place on your doors."

Albany Police will work with business owners and homeowners to help them improve their security.

Judge Gray had a burglar alarm put in his house the day after the burglars hit. "We had an alarm system installed, and we also had a surveillance system installed."

That surveillance system includes four high-end cameras that record 24-hours a day.  The Grays can monitor them anytime, anywhere on the Internet.  Not everyone can afford that, but Judge Gray says do what you can.

"I would recommend that anyone who has anything that's precious to them, however small, that they protect it the best way they can."

Especially now that we live in desperate times.

The wail of a burglar alarm should be enough to scare away a potential burglar.  More south Georgians are counting on that and having alarm systems installed.

"Over the past few months we have been really busy," said Gene Kirk, a Central Monitoring Security Consultant. "I have had appointments during the day, in the evening, on Saturdays, and sometimes even on Sundays."

Central monitoring will install a basic system for as little as $440.

"If somebody opens the door or the window then it breaks the contact, and it sends a signal to the control center," said Kirk.

They'll also install glass break sensors that sound the alarm if someone even tries to break a window pane. "It is mounted on the ceiling or on the wall across from the windows.  It will actually detect the sound of glass breaking within a 25-foot radius," Kirk said.

A high end system with surveillance cameras can run into the thousands of dollars. "We're doing more surveillance cameras than we did a year or two."

But what if you can't afford the fancy gadgets and the $20 monthly monitoring fee?

Rodd Electronics may have the answer for you.

"We carry a variety or wireless home products that anybody can put in themselves," said Luke Pettit, a Rodd Electronics Sales Rep.

Many electronics stores sell easy-to-install wireless systems that will sound an alarm if someone tries to break in... Though they're not monitored by a security firm. "The only thing is doesn't do is call the police," said Pettit.

This one will call your cell phone if there's a problem.  That basic system will run you about $150, but for less than ten bucks you can get a device to put on your door handle that makes an alarm to let you know somebody's trying to get in.

It's certainly not high tech, but it's portable.  You can put it on any door.  And it may be an easy way to give you a little peace of mind during desperate times.

 Our analysis of crime data shows most crimes are actually down in Albany in recent months. But as we showed you burglaries and robberies, those quick money crimes, are up.

      • Helpful Links to help prevent and survive crime--

National Crime Prevention Council
A non-profit educational group formed to address the causes of crime and violence and reduce the opportunities for crime to occur.

Crime Prevention Tips
Crime is on the increase in most large US cities. It is also becoming more prevalent in small communities....

Crime Prevention Education Tips, Activities, Resources
Educating the community on crime prevention techniques and getting citizens involved in crime prevention activities

Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn't, What's Promising
The Effectiveness of Local Crime Prevention Funding

Welcome to McGruff.org
McGruff the Crime Dog®, Scruff®, and "Take a Bite Out of Crime®"

Crime prevention - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Crime prevention is the attempt to reduce victimization and to deter crime and criminals.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service
International Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Association ...

Florida Crime Prevention Association
Internet home of the Florida Crime Prevention Association (FCPA).

Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division - Attorney General
Provides the information and resources needed to address crime and crime prevention issues.

Rutgers Crime Prevention Service
Business crime-prevention tips from the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice.

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | Prevention Tips
Internet crime schemes that steal millions of dollars each year from victims continue to plague the Internet



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