THE FIVE HOLIDAY CRIMES Most police officers will tell you that crime rates tend to increase in the months of November and December. Why? It is the holiday season. People’s habits change during this time of year. Leaving town, more adult beverages, parties, depression, increased shopping, and many other things contribute to this increase. Knowing about the common holiday crimes might be enough to prevent becoming a victim or getting yourself in trouble. 1. DUI This has to be number one. The holidays are either festive or depressing. Both scenarios lead to higher rates of drinking and DUIs. Law enforcement officers are keenly aware of this. During this time, patrols routes are increased and roadblocks are implemented more frequently. As I have suggested many times in the past, being arrested for DUI is 100 percent avoidable. Trying to gauge and mathematically solve the puzzle of your blood alcohol content by using the number of drinks, the hours, and whether you ate is not a good idea. Designated drivers, taxis, and walking are good ideas if you have been “overserved.” 1. Shoplifting When the masses are out shopping, businesses and customers need to remain vigilant as crowded retail establishments tend to see more arrests for shoplifting. Shoppers need to remain alert about their own personal belongings. Businesses usually keep a close watch on shoppers. Additionally, if you are even arrested for misdemeanor shoplifting, your future job outlook is dim. Employers will look past other arrests, or even convictions. But, they do not hire suspected thieves. 2. Entering Auto Vehicle break-ins happen much more frequently during the holiday season because uninvited strangers expect to find gifts in cars. This happens most frequently near shopping centers. The simple solution is just to lock your door, which I need to get into the habit of doing myself. Entering auto in Georgia is a felony offense. 3. Home Invasion (Residential Burglary) I was the victim of a burglary at my home a few years ago. As with most burglaries, I was not home. This is actually fortunate for the burglar because we live in the South. If a burglar breaks into a home, mine or yours, and someone is home, an arrest is not likely. The medical examiner, priest, and funeral for the intruder are the likely people and event that would be involved. So, keep your house locked at night and, if you can legally possess firearms, purchase some and safely secure them in your home where children cannot touch them. If you are going out of town, consider a great idea that works on my land in Meriwether County; nail a couple of posted signs on trees that warn the property is under surveillance by trail cameras that we deer hunters use. Buy a couple of cameras from Walmart and place them in strategic spots. They are very easy to use and you may get a picture of a trespasser. First Degree Burglary is a felony offense in Georgia with a sentencing range between 1-20 years in prison. 4. Family Violence With the increased alcohol consumption, strained finances, and many other factors, the holidays can become a war zone in the home. Family violence is already a huge problem in our community. It just gets worse during the holidays. I don’t have an answer for this. The dynamics in a home are complicated. But, easing off the alcohol and speaking with close friends has somewhat helped in the past. Offenses under Georgia’ Family Violence Act can be misdemeanors or felonies. Regardless, under federal law, if a defendant is ever convicted he or she loses the right to ever possess a firearm. I hope that pointing out these criminal acts will decrease the number of victims, those being arrested, and save lives on the highway. Have a safe Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.