NORFOLK, Va. -- Underneath all the lights and holiday decorations, there is a darker side to the holiday season and it comes in the form of increased crime, according to crime analyst Rick James.
"You go back 20, 30 years, around the holidays, crime does pick up,” James said.
James is also a former Norfolk Police officer with decades of experience in law enforcement. He said on crime that typically rises is larceny, “because of people wanting to steal things and get gifts,” James said.
It is commonly thought that larcenies happen inside stores in the form of shoplifting, for example. James added that most of the larcenies he has seen have happened around people’s cars.
"Seventy-five percent of larcenies came from cars that were left unlocked,” James explained.
Avoiding this problem is as easy as locking your car and not leaving anything valuable in sight.
“If they're doing any shopping, putting their valuables in the trunk where it can't be seen,” James suggested. “That would reduce crime about 50 percent in the communities."
But there's another crime that James says increases around the holidays – domestic violence.
"If they're feeling like they're getting depressed, call someone, talk to your families, talk to your friends, let your doctor know what's going on,” James said.
The signs may be hard to distinguish, but a report from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence reported there is no comprehensive national study linking domestic violence and the holidays. It went on to say domestic violence victims and survivors may experience additional stresses and challenges around the holidays.
"With domestic violence, there's a lot of resources available through the court system and the commonwealth attorney's office,” James said. “That is, by law, handed out to victims of crimes."
News 3 reached out to several local police departments and some replied saying those departments ramp up patrols around shopping centers during their holiday season.
The criminal charges for larceny can range from a year in jail or a $2,500 fine. The same charges apply to domestic violence.
"I can tell you right now that the things we're talking about, the local law enforcement community is very aware of it,” James said. “They're putting things in place right now to protect citizens from crimes that are going to happen over the holiday season."