Fall is here and the holidays are right around the corner. It seems like yesterday that we were welcoming the early daffodils. With the crispness in the air and schoolchildren crunching through the piles of leaves, it may seem that we do not have to think about criminal activity as much as in the warmer months. Unfortunately, we still do, and the Blockwatch Beat has some tips for the holiday season so that folks can stay safe and hang onto those great Christmas gifts!
•It is easy to think that because it is getting colder, the criminals stay inside. Not so! They are still on the prowl for crimes of opportunity. To make their wanderings fruitless, it is very important to lock your home up completely, both when home and away. If you are out back, lock up the front and side. Many people do not lock their screen doors. These doors are a great deterrent to the criminal who only wants to snatch and grab a quick fenceable item.
•Remove all items from your car at night, especially the GPS holder or satellite radio holder. Taking those devices out of their holder and stashing the device under the car seat is not a deterrent.
•Think about keeping your car insurance in your wallet, not in the car, and also removing the garage remote from the car. Lock your car in the garage.
•Close your shades! It gets dark earlier - all the better to see you in your home with your possessions on display, if you will. This especially goes for those of you who like to display your lovely Christmas tree in a window. Just remember to not display the gifts, as well! And when putting out the trash after unwrapping gifts, do not leave the boxes from electronics and other high end purchases in the trash for the criminals to see and then steal the items from you.
•Be aware of your surroundings when coming home in the dark and have your house key at the ready. Make sure that your shrubs or hedges are trimmed back and that you have a porch light on at all times or at least a motion detector light over the door through which you enter.
•When calling 645-4545 or 911, please keep in mind that it is very important to remain calm and have all possible details at the ready for descriptions.
Use your blockwatch! The blockwatch is your best line of defense against criminal action. Always call your captain or coordinator with information regarding criminal activity. Police and code enforcement work hand-in-hand with your blockwatches to ensure public safety and to reduce criminal activity in your neighborhood. Many of these police officers and code officers come to our community meetings and help us on their own time, unofficially, or they rearrange their schedules to fit us into their workday.
•It is important to recognize that code enforcement is not just reporting someone with bad taste in home colors (in your mind, at least!). Code enforcement helps to keep dangerous situations with abandoned structures under control, to name just one important aspect of their job.
•Please keep in mind that we are all doing the best that we can. Sometimes, there are no instant answers. If there is an undercover operation, the police cannot tell the blockwatch so we must be patient and realize that they are doing their job, albeit quietly.
•It is vital to report all criminal action, especially when something seems out of the ordinary, as this can help to establish a pattern to criminal activity.
•On a final note, your community needs you more than ever now. The holidays are a difficult time of year for many people and this year especially may be hard to those not used to experiencing hardship. Please reach out to your neighbors and community members, put aside differences and show compassion to one another.
Have a blessed holiday season.
Lisa Grazier is coordinator of Camp Chase Blockwatch.