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      Burglaries declining in Richland County

      COLUMBIA (WACH) - They say your home is your castle.

      And it turns out those castles are better defended these days.

      Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott saying Thursday the county has hit a historic low when for the number of burglaries in a given year.

      "We're at around 700 this year, which is probably the lowest we've ever had. Even if we doubled the amount of burglaries that we've got now, if the rest of the year we doubled it, we'll still be at almost an all time low." says Lott.

      The Department has a dedicated burglary team, an in-house forensic lab, and a Community Action Team (C.A.T.).

      The C.A.T. Unit works with neighborhoods and home owners one on one to help people be more pro-active about protecting their community.

      "If there's a specific trend, like a burglary, going on - burglary trends in their neighborhood...we give them specifics. If we're looking for a vehicle, a van, or a truck, if we're looking for suspects, what do they look like - their physicalities. And basically train them and teach them how to call 911." sats Lieutenant Rafael Gonzalez, a member of the Community Action Team.

      Gonzalez says another big part of keeping your home safe is making it unattractive to burglars.

      He adds people who break in during the day keep an eye out for homes that look like no one is there.

      "Make it look like someone is home. Let your neighbors know, especially during the summer. A lot of folks go on vacation. Give your neighbors a heads up. If you don't feel comfortable with your neibhbors or maybe you've got issues, let us know. We've got a property check that we do. Call the Sheriff's Department and we'll do a property check twice a day at your home." explains Gonzalez.

      An even scarier thought is the possibility of a burglar in your house at night while your family is home.

      Gonzalez says that is alsotied to making your home look unattractive to a crook.

      "bad guys look for homes that are dark. That's the bottom line. So if you're lit up, or you're lit up in the right areas, the bad guys aren't going to get attracted to that stuff. They're going to stay away from your home. Security - even upgrading the lock system on your door to prevent that person from one, kicking in or coming into your home, can make a world of a difference." states Gonzalez.

      Gonzalez suggests your family have a plan for if someone were to break in.

      He says having a designated room where you will feel safe until the police arrive can be a lifesaver.

      Deputies hope all these tips will keep burglary numbers on the downward trend.