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Local crime rate to spike this holiday
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While the holiday season may be a time of joy and merriment, it is also a peak time of the year for crime.

"HistoricAally we have seen an increase in burglaries and personal thefts around the holidays," said Newton County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Watterson.

December is the perfect time of the year to perform a security assessment of property, Watterson said.

People should make sure windows are locked, their flood lights are working and their valuables are put away out of sight.

"You want to remove temptation," Watterson said. "If you keep it where they can't see it, they are less likely to go looking for it."

 While people usually claim their house is secure, Watterson said they often forget their out buildings and storage sheds. These storage buildings are frequent targets of criminals because they are regularly away from the main house and are less secure.

Watterson said retail stores also see increases in thefts and general crime this time of the year, but a few simple steps can lessen the likelihood of being a victim.

"Keep a low amount of cash in the till," Watterson said. "If you have a large transaction, go ahead and put that money in your safe or take it to the bank. And when you make your deposits at the bank, make the trips on an irregular schedule."

It is also important to keep windows clear of too many decorations and other items which might block a person's view. If the inside of a store is clearly visible from the outside, a thief is less likely to rob the store. Clear windows also give store owners a greater chance of seeing any suspicious people outside the business.

"Anytime you see a suspicious person, give us a call," Watterson said. "Go ahead and try to get a good description of them. Get their tag number and how many occupants are in the vehicle. We really just want people to be aware of their surroundings."