You have your vacation checklist ready. Bathing suit, check. Sunscreen, check. hot dogs, cherry pie and fireworks, check, check, check.
But according to local authorities, you may be leaving some items off you pre-vacation checklist that could protect your home and belongings from burglars this Fourth of July holiday season.
According to Cpl. Doug Rainwater, spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, over the last week a number of different burglaries have been investigated by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office in which thieves have stolen guns, jewelry, electronics and cash while their owners were away.
“In the summer, we tend to see a decrease in burglaries. But when people are on vacation, and no one is home, criminals can see that online and capitalize on it,” Rainwater said.
Forsyth County incident reports show that between June 22 and 26, five forced-entry burglaries were discovered at homes in Cumming, and north and south Forsyth as homeowners returned home and found that their homes had been broken into.
One incident report filed June 24 states that thieves stole four watches worth more than $35,000 after breaking through windows and removing cameras placed around the home. The homeowner advised authorities that they suspected a former friend who had stolen from them in the past.
Another report filed June 24 states that in a 12-hour time window, a residence in north Forsyth was burgled and 10 guns, jewelry, tools and cash had been stolen.
Rainwater said that later on the afternoon of June 24, a north Georgia man was arrested and charged with the burglary after deputies conducted a traffic stop on a black Ford SUV and found eight of the allegedly stolen guns in his position.
According to the arrest report, when asked about the guns in his vehicle, Tommy Lee Adams, 52, of Clermont, allegedly told deputies, “Let’s Just say I found ‘em,” and later told them that he “found them by a creek.” Upon inspection of Adam’s vehicle, the report states that a glass pipe with a white powder residue suspected to be methamphetamine was also found.
Adams has since been charged with 17 felony charges for the incident, including seven felony counts of theft by receiving stolen property, eight felony counts of weapon possession by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and a number of different traffic charges.
He remains in the Forsyth County Jail under a bond of $159,030.50.
Rainwater said that they believe that all five incidents were unrelated and were perpetrated by thieves targeting empty homes.
“When you have kids and dogs and whole families home, thieves don’t want to mess with those houses,” he said. “They do target homes where they know the people are out of town.”
Rainwater said that the sheriff’s office’s main piece of advice is to take every precaution to disguise when you are going to be away on vacation, whether that means setting lights on timers or keeping a low profile on social media.
“If you are going to travel with your family this year, don’t advertise to the public that you are away,” he said. “Everyone on social media can see that you are far away and that your house is empty”.
He suggested that people ask friends or neighbors to regularly check their house, take in mail, flyers and garbage cans, and help keep up the appearance that someone is home.
Rainwater also called on people who are not vacationing out of town this Fourth of July to report any and all suspicious behavior to 911 immediately.