By Bryn McCarthy

It’s that time of year again, when the Christmas lights are up and store windows are filled with holiday decorations, but with the holiday season comes an increase in crime.

Lexington Chief of Police Sam Roman said that he has noticed an increase in crime around the holidays.

The Lexington police force is warning residents of local crime rates increasing during the holiday season. The police are advising locals to lock cars, doors and windows, and be mindful of packages left on doorsteps. (Rockbridge Report file photo)

“You find that mostly property crimes go up, and larceny, things of that nature,” Roman said. “Professionally, I would attribute that to people are out holiday shopping and it’s a target environment.”

He said that people get so engulfed with the excitement of the holidays that they tend to be less vigilant. People forget to lock their doors or roll up their car windows, and these little blips can lead to crime.

“You tend to see more larceny from vehicles, and, perhaps the robbery we experienced may be attributed to that [the holidays],” Roman said. “But, of course, we don’t know that for sure.”

Last week a man committed armed robbery at the local Hampton Inn. The robber entered the hotel, brandished a weapon and assaulted a staff member.

It is inconclusive whether the holiday season influenced this robbery, but Roman said that you can definitely expect to see more property crimes and larceny around the “fourth quarter.”

The Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Department was unavailable to comment, but Rockbridge County has already experienced an increase in crime this year, beginning around Thanksgiving.

Records state that from Nov. 20 through Dec. 3 of this year, there have already been four instances of property damage, four of domestic assault and battery, four of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and two cases of grand larceny in Rockbridge County.

In comparison, records from Sept. 19 through Oct. 1 show only one case of property damage, one case of domestic assault and battery, one case of possession of firearm by a convicted felon, and no instances of grand larceny.

In Lexington throughout December of 2016, there were two instances of theft from a building, three instances of shoplifting, and six cases of other larceny.

While theft has historically been a problem locally, property crime is a large concern in the area.

Local landlord Laura Shaner has started sending out several reminders to her tenants around the holidays ever since one of her houses was broken into over Christmas break a few years ago.

This photo features one home leased out by the Shaners in Rockbridge County, located on Greenhouse Road. (Photo by Kendra Nedell)

“Since then, I have started reminding our tenants to lock all of their doors and windows before [the college holiday] break, and I request extra patrols while they are gone,” Shaner said. “We have not had any break-ins that I know of since then.”

Elizabeth Case, a Washington and Le University senior who rents from Shaner, is always extra careful around the holidays.

“The Shaners always remind me to be extra cautious when we leave Lexington over the holidays because people in town recognize that the students are gone and try and take advantage of that,” Case said. “We make sure to lock our rooms, all the windows, and the front and back door.”

Roman advises everyone to maintain normal vigilance around this time of the year.

“During the holidays we must put up valuables and not make ourselves an easy victim,” Roman said.

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