HOUSTON – A grinch has not stolen Christmas, but they did steal the white strand of holiday lights that reached to the top of the Chickasaw County Courthouse in Houston.
City crews went to test the lights last week in preparation for putting them up and found them missing from a city storage building on the southern end of the Tanglefoot Trail.
“We don’t know when they were stolen and we are not real sure how they got in the building,” said Houston Police Chief Billy Voyles. “Those lights have been a part of Christmas in Houston since I was a boy.
“We believe they stole the lights thinking they could sell it for the copper,” said Voyles. “The sad part is the wire had an aluminum core and they probably didn’t get but a few dollars for it.”
Voyles said metal pipe was also reported stolen from the city warehouse.
“Somebody knows something about this and we would love for them to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-773-TIPS (8477),” said Voyles. “People can also call the Houston Police Department at 456-2554.”
Voyles pointed out a tip to CrimeStoppers could earn the caller some Christmas cash.
“I would love to arrest this grinch,” he added. “I’ve been in law enforcement a long time and it never ceases to amaze me what people will steal.”
The Christmas holiday season usually sees an increase in crime as homes fill with gifts and crooks start looking for easy targets to fill out their own Christmas list.
“We just urge people to be a little more cautious during Christmas,” said Voyles. “People need to take precautions year around, but they need to do a few extra things during the holiday season.”
Voyles said it is the little things that make the difference and he offered this list of Christmas anti-crime measures.
• Lock your doors – “Locking back doors, sliding glass doors and windows just makes good sense,” said Voyles. “You just don’t need to make yourself an easy target for a break-in.”
• Turn on more lights – “Crooks hate light,” said Voyles. “Putting up a light outside or just leaving lights on inside when you leave can make a thief go to the next house.”
• Leave the TV on and dog inside – “Crooks also don’t like noise,” said Voyles. “Leaving the TV on may make them think someone is home. A good dog inside or out is also a good way to keep burglars out.”
• Keep gifts hidden – “Don’t put your Christmas gifts out until the last minute,” said Voyles. “It is just too easy for crooks to see a Christmas tree and quickly break in, grab the presents and be gone.”
Voyles suggested empty wrapped boxes to decorate the tree with the real presents tucked in a back closet.
• Call the cops – “If you see something going on at a neighbors house or hear something at your house, give us a call,” said Voyles. “We are glad to check it out. It’s better to call us and be embarrassed that you did than to not call and be the victim of a crime.”
• Car caution – “Don’t leave purses or presents in plain sight,” said Voyles. “Put them in the trunk where thieves can’t see them.
“And never leave the keys in your car,” said Voyles. “There are crooks who walk around looking for keys in the ignition and that’s the car they steal.”
Voyles also said his department will be patrolling more neighborhoods this Christmas and dropping in local stores during business hours and checking them for locked doors at night.
“Shoplifters are always a big problem this time of year and getting caught is not worth the fine and possible jail time,” said Voyles. “We get called by local stores every year and are glad to respond.”
Voyles said the key ingredient in stopping Christmas crime is more eyes and ears.
“If someone sees something, please call us,” said Voyles. “If someone hears someone talking about a break-in or theft, we want them to call us, too.
Voyles urged people to call the Houston Police Department at 456-5065 to report a crime or to call 911 immediately if they are a victim.