Chief Armstrong offers holiday tips

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, December 19, 2017

NATCHEZ — Natchez resident Frances Trappey woke up Tuesday morning to find her residence had fallen prey to a real-life Grinch.

Trappey’s star shower Christmas lights were stolen from her D’Evereux neighborhood house, likely some time between 10 p.m. Sunday and 2 a.m. Monday, she said.

“If you don’t tie it down, you must be asking for it to get stolen,” Trappey said.

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Trappey believes whoever stole the lights might have been lurking around her house for months.

Speaking to that notion, Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong offered advice Monday for citizens to protect their belongings this holiday season. He had two overarching suggestions.

“What I would suggest is, one: engage your neighbors,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said a collaborative effort by neighbors to be on the lookout, such as neighborhood watch groups, can go a long way toward preventing theft or other types of mischief.

The chief’s next suggestion involves a more technological solution. Surveillance cameras, he said, have become more affordable in recent years and can both prevent crime and aid law enforcement in capturing criminals.

“You can get state-of-the-art cameras for less than $300,” Armstrong said.

Trappey does have a camera system installed, but she said the camera’s sensitivity had been turned down because it would sometimes alert the house when cars would drive by. But Trappey plans to fix that following the theft of her lights.

“We’re replacing the star showers and we’re turning up our camera,” Trappey said.

In addition to decorations, Armstrong warned to take extra steps to secure any packages arriving in the mail.

“In those types of situations, you need to try to have those packages delivered at work if possible, or a neighbor’s residence … or anywhere where there’s going to be somebody there to receive those packages,” Armstrong said.

Natchez Police Capt. Scott Frye said the department had recently received multiple complaints from residents about stolen packages, and he cautioned everyone to secure their packages as quickly as possible.

“Just continue to be aware during the holiday season of your surroundings,” Frye said.

Armstrong said these types of theft are a nationwide trend. He also noted that citizens should make sure all belongings inside their vehicles and residences are safe.

One simple way to mitigate theft, he said, is to keep all belongings out of sight.

“Do all you can to put valuables out of plain view — not just in vehicles, but inside the home as well,” Armstrong said. “You want to close your blinds, make sure your doors are all locked up, and make sure your windows are all locked up as well.”

While residents can take these preventative measures to keep their belongings and themselves safe, Armstrong noted his department is ramping up patrols around the city for the holidays.

Armstrong said extra officers have been working overtime, coming in at 6 p.m. to increase nightshift patrolling.

“We’ve found that to be very effective as well,” he said.

Though he preached diligence in taking safety precautions, Armstrong also urged people to not be fearful during this time of celebration.

“I would certainly not tell people not to enjoy this holiday season without any holiday decorations out of fear of criminal activity,” he said. “We can’t live our lives out of fear of what criminals may do.”

Trappey said she certainly would not let this incident bring down her Christmas spirit.

“It couldn’t possibly ruin it,” Trappey said. “We’re not going to let them take my decorations away.”