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Rash of thefts a potent reminder to keep cars, houses locked up, sheriff says

Given a recent string of burglaries and car break-ins in the county, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner is urging residents to be vigilant about protecting their property.

"We all, in totality, have to take extra steps to protect our property, regardless of where we work, live and play," Tanner said. "We need to make sure we're doing those things and doing them consistently."

The Sheriff's Office arrested two Hilton Head Island teens Monday and charged them with five counts of first-degree burglary and grand larceny in connection with a rash of home break-ins earlier that day.

Authorities say the pair stole computers, wallets, purses, cameras and cell phones from homes on Horvath's Peninsula, Collier Beach Road and Sand Dollar Road.

The Hilton Head Island duo was the second pair of teenagers arrested in connection with a string of thefts.

The Sheriff's Office arrested two Beaufort High students last month in connection with more than 50 break-ins on Lady's Island from April to June. Investigators said the teens, ages 16 and 17, were "car shopping" -- rifling through unlocked cars and stealing items that they later sold to fellow students.

Authorities also are investigating more than a dozen car break-ins last week at the Habersham subdivision off Joe Frazier Road in Burton that resulted in the theft of more than $4,000 worth of electronics and other goods.

"We can deter a lot of this by taking that extra step to protect our personal property," Tanner said.

By installing extra lighting near their homes, being careful about where they hide spare keys and keeping the hedges trimmed below the windows, residents can significantly decrease the risk of a break-in, according to Broadview Security, formerly known as Brink's Home Security.

Broadview recommends that homeowners:

• Leave outside lights on at night. Leave one or two lamps on inside your house when you're not at home.



• Trim the hedges. Tall hedges provide hiding places for potential burglars. Keep yours trimmed so that they're no higher than your windowsills.



• Install home safety equipment, such as reliable dead-bolt door locks and sturdy window latches.



• Have your home watched while you're away. Ask a neighbor to collect newspapers and mail, for example. If you'll be gone for an extended period, hire someone to take care of your lawn or even to house-sit.



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