The Stone County Sheriff's Department is investigating about seven thefts at rural homes this holiday season.
The recent crimes occurred in the Crane, Hurley, and Jamesville areas.
One of the thefts was caught on a security camera. The homeowner, just outside of Hurley, says it happened while she and her family were inside.
"We never knew anything was out of place until 8 o'clock in the morning and some of us started getting up," Andrea Fredericks said.
The thief started on the back deck then made his way inside the garage through an unlocked door. Fredericks says about $6,000 worth of tools, equipment, and more was taken.
"It was a huge violation, but more importantly it put a fear in our family because we were home. He was that brazen. People were awake, people were sitting on the couch, while he was taking stuff out of here," Fredericks said.
However, Fredericks' home wasn't the only one targeted.
"There were three homes on our street that night that were broken into," Fredericks said.
Since then, in addition to cameras, they've boosted their home security with more lights, alarms, and locks.
"These doors automatically lock within two minutes after closing," Fredericks said.
While the these thieves seem to be targeting rural homes this holiday season, Crane Police Chief John Elmore says there are things all homeowners can do to protect their property.
"We've been very blessed here in Crane because we haven't had the burglaries that they're experiencing out in the county," Elmore said. "Thieves don't like noises and they don't like lights."
He says drivers can often become a target for thieves, too. That's why it is important not to leave valuables visible in a parked car.
"Any of that stuff you have needs to be put in a glove box, out of sight, at least," Elmore said.
He says, it is important for everyone to remain vigilant this holiday season.
"You do have to be more on point, you do have to be more aware," Fredericks said. "If it happened to me, I think it can happen to anybody. Our home is very isolated and secluded."
Fredericks recommends an app called "Next Door" that helps link homeowners to their nearest neighbors. It can be used to help area residents look out for one another and stay connected even in rural areas.
Tips for keeping your home safe:
- Lock all doors at all times.
- Close the blinds.
- Leave porch lights or interior lights on.
- Leave a T.V. or radio on.
- Get a security system, including alarms and cameras.
- Hang motion-sensor lights.