Thieves broke into their house and took the Christmas presents they had purchased for their families. Electronics, toys, clothes - all stolen from under the tree.
TVs and a stereo system also were taken, along with personal possessions of the women and their children.
“Folks just don’t care no more,” Lovelace said. “… (My) grandbabies’ the only thing I worry about - grandkids having something.”
The two women had their gift shopping done early. They took in midnight sales on Black Friday so Christmas wouldn’t be stressful.
They left for a fish fry about 8 p.m. Dec. 5. They come home to a broken-out door window and items worth more than $4,000 missing.
“It’s sad the way the economy is, how people have to do stuff like that,” Lovelace said. “… It’s so sad for the kids, you know?”
Cole walked in from a meeting with detectives at the police station Monday, lit up a cigarette and said the alarm system installer was coming that day.
A water jug she had been filling for her children for seven years was taken from her. Potential college tuition or emergency money - gone.
“I’m just more hurt that they took what I’m trying to give,” she said.
There are ways residents can reduce the chances they will be burglarized.
Next to the garbage can outside Cole and Lovelace’s house was an LCD television box, a sign that tips off potential thieves that the goods are inside, police Sgt. Mark Cavender said.
“The most important thing is to not broadcast what you have in your house,” he said.
Some shoppers have resorted to taking a newly purchased TV out of the box in the store, wrapping it in a garbage bag and carrying it home.
Law enforcement agents also recommended that residents keep an outside or inside light as well as a TV or radio when they’re not home. Residents leaving for an extended period of time should ask that mail and newspaper deliveries be held.
“Main thing is if you’ve got a neighborhood, make sure you watch out for each other,” Troup County sheriff’s Chief Investigator Charles Nixon said. “If you see something suspicious, call 911. Let us check it out.”
More than likely, if thieves wants to get into your house when you’re not there, they’ll find a way, Cavender said.
“If a criminal is bound and determined in getting inside your house, I don’t think there’s a 100 percent way to stop them, but make it hard as possible,” he said.
Deadbolts, doorknobs and placing 2-by-4s between sliding doors can be deterrents to potential thieves. Buy a dog, keep hedges cut back so neighbors can see your house, get local authorities to have check on your house if you’re away - all these could mean the difference between having a merry Christmas and missing out, lawmen said.
“It’s the basic things,” Nixon said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”
When shopping, keep your doors locked, take valuables out of the car, keep packages in the trunk rather than the backseat and take them out when you get home.
LaGrange Mall marketing manager Kelley Mitchell said parents losing children has been the biggest problem.
“Have a plan with your child in case they do get lost,” she advised. “Tell them to go to the food court or go to a designated area … and you can meet up with them or introduce them to the security officer that’s in the mall at that time.”
She also suggested not carrying a lot of cash on hand, keeping a shoulder bag going across the shopper’s to keep hands free and keeping multiple items consolidated in bigger bags.
“Just stay alert,” Mitchell said. “Just try to stay alert as well as you can.”
A simple deterrent is one that some residents overlook.
“The biggest one is locking your doors. I can’t express it enough,” Cavender said.
For Lovelace and Cole, their doors were locked, but they were still made Christmas victims.
“Get an alarm system today,” Cole advised.
Trey Wood can be reached at twood @ lagrangenews. com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 228.