PINE BELT (WDAM) - The holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year for burglars.
In WDAM's Special Report "Through the Eyes of a Burglar," Ricky Strickland, a "reformed burglar" shared his experiences to help keep others in the Pine Belt safe at home. Strickland now spends time with Dying to Live Ministries after leaving a life of crime behind him six years ago.
Strickland said a target on your home could start while you are in a public place, shopping this holiday season.
"It's very easy to sit outside Walmart and watch somebody that comes out with two thousand dollars worth of stuff, follow them home and scope out the house," Strickland said.
Once you do get those gifts home, it's important to remove them from your car, open garage or somewhere that would give easy access to a burglar. Captain Tonya Madison, Chief Investigator with the Jones County Sheriff's Department, said the boxes those purchases are in can also be an easy giveaway.
"I drive around myself being that I work for the Sheriff's Department going, 'Oh my goodness, they just got a new TV or a new computer," Madison said.
Black Friday tends to be a big day for big purchases, like TV's, gaming systems and other equipment. Captain Brandon McLemore with the Hattiesburg Police Department said you may be giving criminals the opportunity at your home without even knowing it.
"If you put it out there way before the trash man gets there, all you are doing is showing that person, that criminal an opportunity," McLemore said. "You are showing them what's inside."
Officials suggest breaking down those boxes and hiding the labels or description, if you can. Or, you can put them in a dark garbage bag before you set them out for pick-up. Captain Madison has a unique suggestion.
"If you live in the county, you can burn those boxes," Madison said. "Don't put that stuff out on the side of the road so someone will know what you just purchased."
"Don't ever think you cannot become a victim, because that's when you become an easy target and easy prey," McLemore said.