SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - The start of the holidays also means an increase in certain crimes.
Officer Kolby Helms with the Springfield Police Department said they see a spike in the amount of vehicle break-ins and package thefts during the holidays every year. In terms of vehicle break-ins, Helms said one of the biggest tips he had for people was to avoid leaving any shopping bags in vehicles. He said if they are visible, thieves are more likely to try to break in.
Officer Helms also said those expecting deliveries should try their best to get packages delivered at a time someone will be home to sign for it. He said other options include getting packages delivered to work or investing in a doorbell camera.
There is one more thing people in Springfield can do that Helms said not many remember around the holidays. That would be filing a property record form for their home and it's valuables, or updating it after the holidays. Helms said while it wouldn't help in the instance of a car break-in, it's a good preventative measure in case anything were to happen down the road. "The unfortunate thing if you just made the purchase is you probably don't know a lot about it, you don't know the serial number, you haven't registered whatever it might be," said Officer Helms. "Springfield does have on our website now a list where you can put your make, model, serial number, the value of the item, and you can print that off and put all your own information in there and store it somewhere safe." Helms explained if a person's items are stolen and the police are able to relocate them, this would be the best and easiest way to verify items originally belonged to them.
Another crime that is actually on the decline across Springfield would be the number of cars getting stolen with the keys inside. Helms said it has been a conscious effort by the Department to educate the public about an ordinance forbidding vehicles be left in a public area running and unattended. Enforcement of the ordinance involves a municipal ticket with up to a $1,000 fine.
Officer Helms reassured residents they don't always give out tickets for this violation, but it's used as an educational tool instead. "We can enforce it, we're really not trying to give people a whole bunch of tickets because they're doing this, but we do want them to be informed that there is an ordinance and it could be enforceable."
Officer Helms said this action will help improve the overall vehicle theft rate in Springfield, because out of all the cars stolen in a year, about 50% of them have the keys already inside. The Department also acknowledges that even if the keys are inside, the crime of stealing a vehicle is much more severe than someone violating the ordinance.