School graduations and 95-degree weather send a signal to local law enforcement as clear as Santa's sleigh bells: 'Tis the season for crime.
Fights, shoplifting, public drunkenness and higher theft rates are all part of the summer season.
Car thefts, especially, are up right now, police say.
Recently, several cars around Bratton Avenue, Hillcrest, Northbrook and Herndon Avenue in York were broken into and items stolen included a Colt .45 cal pistol, I-Pod, MP3 player, cell phones, checkbooks and prescription medicines, according to the York Police Department.
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There are several plausible reasons for this seasonal phenomenon, but police say more people out and about is the top reason summer is prime crime season.
Since students aren't in school, they're on the streets more, said York Police Chief Bill Mobley.
Clover Police Captain Chuck Neil said it's harder for parents to keep an eye on their children now than it was in the past.
"Most families, the husband and the wife both work, so it's tough, it really is," he said. "I think a lot of the problem with kids is that people don't keep as close an eye on them as they should. They let them go and do a lot more than they probably should. I don't think that's necessarily a summertime problem, I think it just compounds itself in the summer because they've got more time."
Warm weather also means more cookouts, barbecues and people drinking, Mobley said.
"As the temperature goes up, so do people's tempers," Mobley said.
That's why assault and battery cases, public disorderly conduct and criminal domestic violence tend to be higher in the summer, he said.
Thefts also go up in summer.
Lawn care items like mowers and clippers are common theft targets because they're easy to sell this time of year, Mobley said. Window air conditioners are another commonly stolen item.
"A lot of this involves young adolescent individuals who wander the streets looking for opportunities for cash," he said.
With police calls increasing as the population in York County grows, officers are depending on people using their own safety precautions to help keep crime at bay from reporting suspicious persons to taking care to properly protect property.
What they've got to remember is to keep their valuables locked up and out of site in their cars, said Tim Smith, York County Sheriff's Office, Clover/Lake Wylie district commander.
Smith has also noticed a recent increase in car break-ins.
Most car break-ins happen when people leave valuables such as a wallet, CDs and other valuables in sight and unlocked.
"That's just an invitation," he said.
TIPS to prevent theft while you're out this summer:
• Keep vehicle doors locked and windows closed, even when unattended for short periods of time.
• Always remove your keys from your vehicle.
• When fueling, close the windows and lock the doors.
• Before leaving your home or going to sleep, lock all vehicle doors.
• Do not leave any belongings in plain view; store packages in the trunk of your vehicle when the vehicle is unattended.
• Do not leave garage door openers in your vehicle.
• Never leave your vehicle registration or other personal information in an obvious location
-- Tim Smith, York County Sheriff's Office, Clover/Lake Wylie district commander
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