LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It's that time of year when more of us are out shopping, loading our cars with purchases, and putting gifts under the tree at home. However, it's also the same time of year when some crimes tend to spike.
We looked through every police report of home and car break-ins, from December of 2011, for clues and found some significant trends.
In the first 25 days of December in 2011, Lexington police investigated 230 residential burglaries and 259 cases of larceny, or thefts, from vehicles. We looked through every case, added them up, and then matched them with a calendar and found the crimes tended to happen during the weekdays.
Even more, the crimes spiked the highest the week before Christmas. An even closer look revealed that Wednesday was the worst day of the week when people were most likely to become a victim to the holiday crooks.
"It's not surprising that we see more burglaries during the week," said WKYT's Crime Tracker Officer Don Evans, a retired police detective. He said this should serve as a warning.
"Understand that, unfortunately, there are people out there that, at this time of year, are looking to victimize you. Even more so than other times of the year," said Evans. "Generally, these burglars want to come when people aren't home. So you're going to see a spike maybe in the week prior to Christmas, that's not unusual."
He went on to say the daytime is when the majority of the thefts happen because it's the time when people are less likely to be home.
For some shoppers, this trend is a bit alarming.
"That seems pretty high to me," remarked Ron Mayes.
"I would expect a little higher on the weekends," replied Aaron Lambert.
Steve Newman added, "I'd say it's directly related to the economy. Everybody, times are tough, people are broke and desperate."
Newman and Lambert said they've been crime victims before. Both said their cars had been broken into, Lambert says it's happened to him twice.
"They're just looking for easy opportunities," he speculated.
Both men said they won't be caught slipping on security, again.
"I think you have to keep an eye peeled anytime," summarized Newman.
Evans said people need to be alert, but that doesn't have to mean they have to be paranoid. "Don't be afraid to go shopping, and understand more people are out. You've got more eyes watching, too, and the thieves know that."
While the car and home break-ins were at the highest the week before Christmas, the stats showed a drop off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. However, that doesn't mean the thieves caught the holiday spirit. Eight burglary reports were filed by police on Christmas day in 2011.