By Dedra Cordle
While criminal activity may take place throughout the year, the summer seems to be a popular season for criminals as it is a time for family vacations, long hours of working in the yard, and open doors and windows to catch breezes and natural light.
Though there is no way to protect self or property 100 percent of the time, people can make it harder to become a victim of crime by taking preventative measures, said Deputy Jessica Gabriel with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
On June 23, Gabriel attended the Pleasant Township board of trustees meeting to give tips to residents so they can stay safe during these summer months.
For home protection, the number one rule, she says, is to lock it up.
“If you have a lock, use it.”
In addition to keeping the main doors locked, she recommended keeping service doors locked as well because criminals have been known to drive through neighborhoods using universal garage door openers to see if any of them open.
She said that while she knows it is awful to have items stolen from the garage, it would be much better to have it happen there than have the criminals make it into your house.
As for windows, residents should keep them locked too, but tabs that keep it from going all the way up will work as well. Gabriel also recommended that second floor windows be locked to ward off ladder-wielding criminals.
“It’s scary that they think that far ahead, but it really does happen.”
She said that alarm systems, though pricey, are quite useful and that one should not keep a spare key outside.
Around the home, Gabriel said residents should case the place to see how someone could gain access to the inside of their houses.
“Sometimes, you have to think like a criminal,” she said.
She recommended using window shades, keeping shrubs and bushes under six feet and installing motion detectors around the property.
While out, Gabriel recommended people not use cell phones while walking around (e.g. to the car after shopping) as they may cause you to become unaware of your surroundings. She also said to park in well-lit places at night or places that see foot traffic.
She added that once in your car, leave.
“It’s not the time to check Facebook or balance the checkbook,” she said.
And speaking of Facebook, Gabriel said not to count down on social media the days until you go on vacation. She also said to wait until you are back from vacation to post pictures.
“Everyone knows that Ohio is not near the ocean,” she said.
Other tips that were offered were; do not give personal information over the phone, do not use the password 1-2-3-4-5 on anything security related and do not be afraid to call law enforcement to report suspicious activity.
“You have to trust your intuition,” she said. “If something feels wrong, it probably is.”
In other news, after the June 23 meeting, Fire Chief Jay Noojin announced that smoke detectors are available at the station, located at 5373 Norton Road, for residents free of charge. He said the firefighters are willing to help residents install the smoke detectors if request.
Additionally, Noojin asked that residents trim trees and overgrown bushes near driveways so they do not damage fire engines, medics or other personal property during an emergency response.