KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Big 12 Basketball Tournament gets underway Wednesday night and police officers will be out in force to keep criminals at bay.
There is one type of crime that spikes during the tournament. It's a crime of opportunity and with so many people expected to be at the Sprint Center, drinking, relaxing, enjoying the basketball games, thieves will be on the prowl, looking for an easy score.
Kansas City police officers say they see a spike in car burglaries during this time every year as people forget to hide their valuables. They'll leave their purses or briefcases in the front seat. And it only takes a few seconds for to break the window and grab it.
Police officers, though, will be on the lookout -- on bike, on foot, even on horse. They'll also be watching security cameras, and at the first sign of trouble, they'll be there to break it up.
They hope their presence will discourage thieves from even trying to break into cars, though they recommend people keep valuables hidden in their trunk.
"People will break your car window out just for the change in your cup holder, so keep all that stuff out of sight," Sgt. David Jackson said. "And the other thing I would suggest is give yourself plenty of time. If you want to make it to a three o'clock game, don't leave your office at two o'clock. You're not going to make it. You're going to be frustrated because you can't find parking."
Sgt. Jackson says every year, people get frustrated by the amount of time it takes to find parking, especially with several surrounding streets closed due to construction. So if you don't want to miss any of the game, start heading down here several hours before tip off.
This is also the first year since 2005 that alcohol will be sold inside the arena during the game. Police don't expect any additional problems with alcohol being sold inside the Sprint Center, but they will keep their eyes on the doors once the fans leave the game just in case.
Sometimes fans can be overwhelmed by the emotions of a loss -- or a win. But officers say the biggest problem with drinking too much isn't violence, it's those who decide to drive home when they shouldn't and the troubles they remembering where they parked their car.
"We definitely want you to come down here and enjoy all this stuff and have a good time, but just do it responsibly," Jackson said. "Even on the weekends when it's not the Big 12, people have too much to drink and forget where their car was or they park it somewhere where it shouldn't have been and that becomes an issue with tow trucks and cars getting towed."
Police recommend using a designated driver and paying to park so that cars won't be at risk of getting towed.