Oklahoma County deputies' patrols aim to freeze naughty crooks holiday spirit
Santa might be watching to see if you've been naughty or nice, but Oklahoma County sheriff's deputies are keeping an eye on all your nice stuff so the naughty folks don't take it.
Starting after Thanksgiving and continuing through the new year, the county's fugitive warrant squad is adding neighborhood patrols to its responsibilities.
Deputies are keeping their eyes peeled for thieves and watching for open garage doors and packages left on porches.
They're patrolling neighborhoods and rural areas in eastern Oklahoma County during the daylight hours, when most residents are at work. Unfortunately, many crooks are too.
"Our main objective right now is to do this holiday burglary patrol to see if we can stop things before they happen or catch them if they're in the process of burglarizing someone's home or business," Lt. Larry Grant said.
"This is the time of the year where people will follow the mailman. They'll be about a half mile or quarter mile behind him and he's putting mail in the mailbox and just when they get over the hill, they'll come to the mailbox and grab the mail," he said.
Thieves also follow package delivery trucks, Grant said.
"They'll drive around and they're eyeballing, and they'll see those packages on the porch and snag them and go," Grant said.
"The ideal thing on a package is to make arrangements to have them delivered when you're going to be there, or go pick them up. Leaving them on your front porch, you're taking a big, big, huge chance of them not being there," he said.
Thieves also go door to door pretending to look for someone they know doesn't live there, attempting to find an unattended home to burglarize.
"Burglar alarm goes off, they'll grab what they can," Grant said.
"These guys that come out here and steal from people, you have different groups," Sgt. Mark Johns said.
"You have those that are the drug addicts who really don't coordinate. They just hit the first house they see that is an opportunity. And then you have other thieves that are actually professionals. They'll do surveillance, they'll watch certain places," he said.
Johns warns that if you've been burglarized once to be prepared for the burglars to return in the near future.
"These professional thieves, they wait for you to get everything replaced and then they come and do it again. And everything they get is brand new now," Johns said.
Professional thieves also have been known to disguise their rides as commercial vehicles, hoping authorities will ignore what look like work crews.