SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. — Officials with the Sumter County Sheriff's Office say they've seen an increase in trailer thefts in the area.

Sgt. Luke Hall with the department says there are a few ways you can help make yourself and your property less vulnerable.

Hide it

"These folks, you know, this is their job; they go out and steal other people's property, so if they can see it, they can find a way to take it," Hall said. "If you have a place to put it, put it out of sight. It's best that they don't even know you have a trailer."

The goal is to make yourself a "hard target," which means that, although you're not completely immune to a theft, you're much less likely to be taken advantage of. 

"If we can tell everybody to make their property a harder target, then... it'll be harder for everybody to commit this type of crime in Sumter County," Hall said.

Lock it up

Trailer owners should also be sure to secure their items properly.

"One of the easiest ways of doing this is just locking your trailer, whether you have an enclosed trailer or a regular trailer," Hall said. "You can secure to part of your property, you can secure it to part of your fence, you can secure it to a pipe in the ground....Use a lock and you know where the key is; don't let everybody have the key."

Mark it

Be sure to put clear markings on your trailer to help identify it if it is ever stolen. Also take photos of your property to aid in the investigation.

"You could say it's a black trailer, you know, but it's a lot of black trailers out there," Hill said. "Give us some distinguishing markings on your trailer. You can mark your trailer, take pictures. Take a picture of the serial number; put your own markings underneath it, on the side of it."

Trailer theft is a serious offense and Hall says they are following these cases aggressively. 

Anyone with information on a potential theft in Sumter County should reach out to the sheriff's office at 803-436-2000.