COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Columbia has seen a fall in burglaries over the Thanksgiving holiday since 2011. There were 36 residential burglaries in 2011, 24 in 2012 and 15 this year.

Sgt. Joe Bernhard with the Columbia Police Department said residents are doing a better job at helping prevent crimes of opportunity.

"More than half of the larcenies and burglaries are from unlocked vehicles or homes," Bernhard said. "They leave their door unlocked, the garage door open or window unlocked."

Bernhard said police always increase patrols in high-risk areas during the holiday season when many people are out of town.

He said only an estimated 20 percent of burglaries are completely solved.

"A lot of times we don't clear the burglary, but we can recover the property in a pawn shop or somewhere else," Bernhard said.

ABC 17 News went to Tiger Pawn on Business Loop 70 to find out how many stolen items are recovered at the shop.

"It's an average of maybe one time a month or so," said Danny Trim with Tiger Pawn. "It does happen, but it doesn't happen as much as it used to."

That's because pawn shop owners ID every seller and log every item into a national database that can help police find stolen property that has been sold or pawned.

Trim said he believes this makes it tougher for burglars to make a profit from stolen items.

"It takes away pawn shops as a viable option for people who steal things," he said.

Trim said pawn shops can play an active role in solving burglary and theft crimes.

Christmas is weeks away and many people will leave town again. Columbia police say they will be doing the same things they did over the Thanksgiving holiday to try to prevent burglaries.

"We're going to have officers again out patrolling areas, only patrolling areas for burglars and to try to prevent or catch them," Bernhard said.

Police are warning people to keep large displays of holiday gifts out of sight from the window and to have a neighbor get the mail if a person is out of town to make it appear as if the person is home.