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Next Monthly Meeting!!!

August Monthly Meeting (No Meeting in July)

Location: Kemah Police Department

Click Here for Directions to Kemah Police Department

Date: September 27th 2017 11:30am- 1:30pm

Cost: Lunch will be provided

Please  RSVP @ TGCCPAPRESIDENT@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Crime Prevention Tips

 By: Officer Walter Candelari

Dickinson Police Department - Dickinson, Texas

 

“Rapunzel, Rapunzul, Let down your hair!”

Do you remember the fairy tale about the beautiful Rapunzel locked away in a tower? The only way anyone could visit her was when she let down her long tresses for them to climb. Some hair! Some lock on the tower door! It would be great if the locks on our houses worked as well.

Locks are a good investment but, as with most things, you have to buy the correct one for the job and be willing to spend a bit more to improve on quality. A basic lock found in most homes is the Double Cylinder Lock which uses a key on both sides to open. This type of lock while probably being the most secure against a burglary requires, when glass panels are present,  that the inside key not be left in the lock and be placed somewhere close in case of a fire or emergency.

Another lock is the One-sided Deadbolt which, as the name implies, uses a key on the outside and a lever of some type to open the door from the inside. This can also be an effective lock in that it still requires a key for outside entry but eliminates the one on the inside. This lock should not be used in any door that has a glass panel – break the glass, reach in and turn the lever. There is yet another type of deadbolt that is known as a Double Cylinder Captive Deadbolt. This has one key for the outside and a removable thumb bar on the inside.

Some of the newest locks are the electronic keyless deadbolts. As the name implies, it uses a small motor to retract and return the locks deadbolt instead of using a key to do it manually. These locks are usually powered by batteries, use a keypad for entry and most have a key that can be used in case of a power failure. Some models feature remote control activation to help when you are carrying groceries or other bulky items. The positive features of keyless locks include: you never have to worry about losing a key or other family members being locked out; the remote which opens the lock ahead of you, and you can always use a key if you wish. Some negatives to this style of lock: if you are easily flustered or have to gain entry quickly you may forget the combination; in some models a power failure can wipe out all of the combinations; extreme weather may cause a malfunction, and unlike losing a key, if you lose a remote it can be expensive to replace.

A lock is only a good as the door and frame to which it is attached. Never use a hollow core door as an exterior door. Solid wood, laminates, and metal doors are recommended as well as upgrading the standard wood door frame. Retro fitting can be expensive. Designing security into a home or building is much preferred.

A final reminder: buying a more expensive lock and not upgrading the striker plate and even adding a door lock reinforcement plate around the lock itself is like Rapunzel getting a Pixie cut. It may look good but it doesn’t help the situation.

Remember: Think, Plan, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a victim.

 

 

Who Are You?

If I were to ask you what theme songs associated with movies or television shows immediately come to your mind, what would your answer be? For me the theme from the James Bond movies, the Special Victims Unit of NYPD, Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, and CSI Miami are no brainers. And the list goes on. While the theme for CSI Miami “Who are you?’ evokes the actions of the master crime scene specialists, I also associate it with Identity theft.

Every day more and more people are falling victim to what is arguably the most prevalent crime in the country. In spite of our best efforts criminals keep finding ways to access our information and wipe out what we have worked all of our lives to garner. What do you do if your checks are stolen?  The first thing is to cancel your checking and savings accounts and get new account numbers. When you get your new accounts, you may want a secret password in place. Place a ‘stop payment’ on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. If you shop and your check is rejected by the check verification company they use, contact that company and find out what they require to correct the problem. You may need to sign forgery affidavitsas requested by the bank, merchant, or your local law enforcement agency. Report it as soon as possible to your local law enforcement agency. You will need to contact the major check verification companies to tell them that your checks were stolen.

The same basic process holds true if your ATM or Debit card is stolen or being used fraudulently.  Report it to your bank, get a new card, account number and password (making sure that you do not use any of the old numbers or names), and monitor your statement carefully. Use the same process with stolen or fraudulently used credit cards.

If your identity has been stolen the process is almost the same but takes a lot more work. You will need to contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and tell them that your identity has been stolen. Ask them to place a “fraud alert” on your credit file so that no new credit accounts or cards can be opened without your direct approval. For each account that has been compromised you need to contact the security department of the bank or business and immediately close those accounts. New accounts and passwords are needed.

Here is the contact information for the Credit Reporting Bureaus:

Equifax: P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta Ga. 30374                                 (800)846-5279

Experian: (formerly TRW) P.O. Box 9532, Allen Tx. 75013               (888)397-3742

Trans Union: P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, Ca. 92834                            (877)332-8228

Check verification Companies include:

CheckRite-Now: Dakota Credit Services      (701) 483-9111

SCAN                                                        (800) 262-7771

Telecheck                                                  (800) 288-0131

There is the Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse (maintained by the FTC) that provides information to identity theft victims – Toll Free: 1-877-438-4338 or www.idtheft.gov

Any degree of identity theft is traumatic and when you attempt to cash a check or conduct any business after someone has ‘stolen’ your identity it becomes difficult to answer “Who Are You?”   or “Are you really who you say you are?”

Special thanks to Det. Fos, DPD, for the Victim/ Fraud information.

For additional information: Texas Crime Prevention Association www.tcpa.org or Texas Gulf Coast Crime Prevention Association www.tgccpa.org

Remember: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a crime victim.

 

‘Cry wolf’ …. actually ‘Cry grey wolf with a limp..’

Every law enforcement agency has at least one person who meticulously monitors the neighborhood and calls whenever anything – and I do mean anything – is different. Their number pops up on the communication screen and the dispatcher answers calling them by name. If they haven’t heard from them in a day or two, they may call them to check and make sure they are ok.

In a very general estimate, for every 100 calls received from citizens, one call will result in action taken by an officer – excluding ‘hot calls’ like family violence. Our conscientious neighbor may account for about a fifth of these calls.

While it may sometimes be an issue to deal with the call from our neighbor friend when other calls are dropping and accidents being reported, it is still far better to check and find nothing than not know and have something really occur.

When you call be aware that the dispatcher needs to get information from you in addition to your name, address and number you are calling from. That person needs to assess the nature of the call and severity in order to determine who to send i.e. EMS and Fire and what warnings/ alerts need to be issued.

Normally you will be asked a series of questions, all of which are important and designed to bring the best response without endangering either the situation or responding personnel.

Questions for emergency and non-emergency calls may include:

  • what is going on i.e. somebody breaking in the house next door, woman screaming for help, etc.,
  • the exact location as best you can give it, i.e. house number, cross street
  • is the crime in progress or when did it happen
  • any weapons being used, displayed or accessible
  • number of injured person, types of injuries and possible severity
  • vehicle information as best as you can give it, i.e. license number, color, make, model, anything unusual about it, i.e. damage to fender, and number of person (you will be asked more about them)
  • people involved - race, gender, age height, weight, color of hair and length or style, clothing and anything else you may notice, i.e. voice, glasses, scars. Note: When giving information on a person(s) you will normally be asked to start at the top, i.e. hate/hoodie and work your way down. 

Each call and situation is different and will require information unique to that incident. Remember that the more information, the more accurate that information is, the better and safer the response will be.

Sample non-emergency calls: burglary when the suspect is gone, stolen checks/ credit cards, loud parties, minors violating curfew, auto theft/ vandalism not in progress, exhibiting unusual mental or physical symptoms but not presenting a danger to themselves or others.

True emergency calls to 911 can include: a fire, a crime in progress, a vehicle accident especially with injuries, a medical emergency which requires immediate medical attention. Again you will be asked questions similar to the non-emergency calls to determine what type of response/ help is needed.

DO NOT HANG UP until the dispatcher tells you to!

Remember: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a crime victim.

 

911 – What is your emergency?

I was in the dispatcher’s office checking to see if a vehicle was reported stolen when a 911 call came in. As I listened I noticed something unusual about the call. It wasn’t the nature of the emergency but who was calling. A lady had fallen on a glass object which shattered and cut her arm badly. Instead of dialing 911 directly, she called her husband who, in turn, had to call. Fortunately she did not sever an artery but she could have and, in the time it took to call her husband who then had to call us, she could have been in serious condition.

When I asked them about it, our dispatchers said that it was not uncommon for a person to call someone else before they called us. One incident that really stood out for them was a lady who called her husband at work and wanted him to come home immediately because there was someone breaking in.

911 is exactly what it is designed to be – an immediate response to a critical or life threatening event. It doesn’t work if you don’t call. Dispatchers are trained to assess a call and send the appropriate personnel whether you need the Fire Department, EMS, Police or a combination of all of them.

I remember being dispatched to a possible suicidal subject. On arrival, I met with relatives who told me that the person was off medications and had been talking about shooting himself. He had access to a gun but it was not in his possession at this time. When I met with him he was definitely in bad shape and was actually relieved when we agreed he needed to go to the hospital. In my discussion with the relatives I found out he had been in this condition for almost two days and they were just now calling. Why hadn’t they called sooner? They were embarrassed, not sure if it was that serious and didn’t want to bother us.

911 is one of the strongest features of crime prevention. When, despite all of our efforts to deter an incident, we find ourselves threatened or in immediate danger, 911 is our best response. Alarm systems, video cameras, reinforced door jams and locks are all important safety features and need to be employed. Being proactive in our daily lives and alert to our surroundings is crucial. As Kenny Rogers likes to tell us “You have to know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em.” We need to “know when to hold’em (911 calls) and when to make them.

Most importantly, when it is time to call do not hesitate to do so and, please, call us directly. Don’t call a spouse or significant other and waste what may be critical, life-saving seconds or minutes. The details that only you can provide may be the difference between life and death. Call us!

Find out how good we really are!

911 – What is your emergency?

Remember: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a crime victim.

 

 

A reason for crime prevention – crime victims!

Perhaps some of the most telling reasons for advocating crime prevention in all its forms are the stories you hear from the victims of crime, not just those who have been burglarized or robbed but those who have been beaten, sexually assaulted, shot and have survived. Most have not only survived but they have rebuilt their lives and now serve as models to the rest of us.

In each case, no matter how minor the incident was, the victims felt a sense of violation and a loss of the sense of security they once had. Many felt guilty that they had not done enough to prevent the incident –DESPITE THE FACT THAT A VICTIM IS NOT THE GUILTY PARTY and in all probability there would have been nothing they could have done differently to prevent it.

I have heard Jennifer Schuett speak of her ordeal on several occasions. She speaks of being dragged from her room, taken to a field, raped, her throat cut and being left to die. Laying there for hours until some neighborhood children found her, she resigned herself to what was to come and it was only when she felt ants stinging her that she knew that she would live. Today she is an advocate for all victims, alive and filled with love for her family, her daughter, and knowing that each time she tells her story someone without hope may find strength through her. The story is even more poignant when you remember that she was only eight years old when this happened.

Even more difficult to comprehend and to guard against are those crimes – assaults, sex crimes, burglaries, etc. committed by those we know and trust. Drug addiction consumes and drives the addict. Nothing about family or friends remains sacred. All are subject to being used, stolen from, lied to, in the name of addiction. Sexual assaults and molestations are no less dangerous and, in their own way, wreak more havoc on individuals and families especially when committed by a family member or trusted friend.

Remember – ALL of the locks, bars, alarms, and lighting that you could possibly have are no guarantee that you won’t become a victim.  There have been victims who were surrounded by security devices just as there have those with none. What crime prevention does best is raise your awareness to potential dangers and to give you options to address them.

Locks, lighting and alarms are essential considerations. Awareness of your surroundings and trying to minimize your vulnerability are critical skills to be sharpened. Defensive devices, tactics and skills can build confidence in your ability to meet the unexpected. Build a strong support team i.e. family, friends, neighbors, law enforcement to reinforce your ‘circle of awareness’ and to help keep you abreast of what is happening in your environment.

Our mantra in crime prevention could be: SASS! Stay Alert, Stay Safe (If I were Paula Deen, from the Food Channel, I would say SASSY – Stay Alert, Stay Safe – Yall!)

Remember: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a crime victim.

 

The next reality show …

Let’s see, we have reality shows about bakers, gator hunters, keeping up with a dysfunctional family, bird call makers, housewives from every coast and just about every state, wives from various sports and a guy that excelled in finding and doing dirty jobs. We have cooking shows the will get you chopped, teach you how to feed a family of twenty for fifty cents a day, take you across the country teasing you with all of the wonderful places to eat that most of us will never get a chance to visit. Then there are the shows that probe the cultures behind the food, have an ordinary man eating extraordinary amounts of food at a sitting and one who literally will eat anything (I often wonder what his medical insurance looks like.)

What more could we ask for?  I have the answer – The Crime Reduction And Prevention show (C.R.A…. Never mind the short version)

What could be more exciting than watching a CP specialist doing his or her job? Imagine the drama when lock and deadbolt screws are removed and ‘gasp’ found to be only 2 ¾ inches in length and not the full 3” in length. Imagine the hair pulling and clothes ripping that would result when the husband and wife disagree on what kind of woofer to get – Pit Bull vs Pit Poodle. Then the action really heats up when it is discovered that the painted house numbers on the curb were done in orange and black paint instead of black and orange! A crisis in the making.

A serious lapse in security almost results in a trip to divorce court when Candy discovers that Bill has never, yes never, locked the back door when he is out cutting the grass in the back yard. It gets worse when Bill discovers Candy has been using the security video system to play “As the Stomach Turns’ reruns. The turmoil remains high until the CP person intervenes and does some mediation and anger management therapy while reviewing the locks on the windows.

The tension peaks when fake repairmen bully their way in to a house, secretly dump dirt in the washer and force the lady of the house to buy a new (actually recently refurbished) unit, which they just happen to have in the back of their truck and two raffle tickets for a chance on a dream vacation to Wally World (they guaranteed one was an absolute winner). While this is unfolding, a scantily clad lass in an abbreviated Morgan City Fighting Muskrat cheerleader uniform charms the man of the house in to purchasing a magazine subscription to the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce monthly newsletter – at least that is what he thinks he purchased.

Can it get any better? Yes!

Mrs. Buttinsky, local leader of the ‘everything you do is my business’ society storms in to the city council meeting requesting – nay! demanding- an immediate increase in the PD’s bicycle patrol in her neighborhood noting that the one officer with the muscular arms and the tight – well you can guess – personally check in with her whenever he is patrolling.

This is a guaranteed TV Emmy winner!

Remember: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t be a victim!

 

 

"10 Action Principles of Crime Prevention"

Remember the old story about the farmer who married a mail order bride? NOT that one!

In this one he picks her up at the train station and they go directly to the mayor for the nuptials. All this time neither the bride nor the groom has said much except for the “I Do’s!”  They climb in to the carriage pulled by an old mule and off they go – in silence. About two miles out of town, the mule stops dead in his tracks and sits down. The farmer sits there for a few minutes, climbs out of the carriage, walks directly in front of the mule, looks him square in the eyes and says, “That’s One”  The farmer climbs back in, the mule gets up and off they go. The bride just sits there in amazement not saying a word. Three more miles and the mule again plops down. The farmer does the same as before and tells the mule, “That’s two.” Same result. The bride is even more amazed but again says nothing. After only two miles the mule plops down again. The farmer gets out, walks to the mule, picks up a board from a nearby fence and knocks the mule out cold. He calmly gets back in the carriage and just sits there. The bride can’t stand it. She turns to her new husband and starts in … Why did you do that? Why didn’t you just do the same as before? What kind of man have I married? And on she went ….  The farmer sits there for a minute, turns to her and says,    “That’s one.”

And the point is?

If you don’t make/ take the time to learn about things that are important to you, you may be stuck like the bride!

In crime prevention the 10 Action Principles are designed to help prevent citizens and law enforcement from working in isolation and not having enough information about each other to know what to expect.

Principle One – Preventing Crime is everyone’s business. Every act of crime produces a wave of reaction and affects the community in multiple ways. Law enforcement is obviously involved as are those who are the victims. So too are elected officials, social services as-well-as business leaders. Crime will impact elections, budgets and the local economy. If you struggle with the effects/ costs of crime you have fewer resources to devote to the growth and development of the community. Eventually you tend to focus on the negative as opposed to the positive aspects of life.

Most importantly, crime prevention needs to be the ‘business’ of every child, teen and adult in the community. Each has a role and a responsibility in preventing crime. It may be as simple as telling parents about strangers approaching children or as complex as organizing and starting a neighborhood watch program. Whatever your role is it must be proactive! Prevention is easier and less costly than recovery.

As always: Think, Plan and Execute crime prevention designs!  Don’t be a victim!

 

Principle #2

"Crime Prevention is more than security"

If you put locks on your doors and windows, alarms inside and out and plan the landscape to discourage an intruder, you have completed only half of the battle. The other half involves developing a proactive mind-set that looks to the causes of crime in the community and seeks to build a broad based approach to solutions. Individually, most of us do not have the time or the resources needed to establish a comprehensive crime prevention program.  It is amazing what we can do when we work together.

Bill found out what working together can do – but not as he anticipated. He and Candy had been working on establishing a neighborhood watch program but his work kept him out of the loop. Meanwhile Candy had stayed busy and she along with other neighbors had their program up and running. Every Friday when work permitted, Bill and his neighborhood buds would ‘jog’. This event would last about an hour or so and Bill always returned in a more relaxed condition but not overly sweaty or out of breath. 

At the next meeting of the Neighborhood Watch, Candy and the ladies decided to track the joggers ‘to see how their program worked.’ The men of the organization somehow missed that part of the meeting. Bill and his fellow joggers can attest to the fact that the program works extremely well. Friday evening the ’alert’ went out as the joggers started. Each block reported their progress. After the fifth block the reports stopped. The joggers had disappeared. The ‘alarm’ was sounded and the mobile unit was dispatched. As per training, the unit moved slowly through the neighborhood, windows down, looking and listening. No sign of the missing joggers.

The break came when the unit heard the unmistakable sounds of men cheering coming from the garage of the neighborhoods only resident bachelor.  A stakeout was quickly set up and soon the joggers emerged depositing empty cans and plastic glasses in the garbage before they high-fived each other and began their run homeward.

The Friday jogging society is no more. Bill actually has to jog.

While this is not a recommended activity for a neighborhood watch program it does illustrate how an effective program can operate. Here the neighborhood moved beyond the basics of the physical security measures and developed a fluid program that could adapt to just about any issue. They can track a strange vehicle, a suspicious person, look for a missing child or even track errant joggers.

Bill and his buds are not giving up their social evening without a fight. Bill says they are developing a program of ‘stealth joggers.’ They will become Ninja runners moving quickly and becoming un-traceable. Unfortunately the word has leaked and Candy along with a ‘special unit’ of the Watch have accepted the challenge.

Crime prevention moves beyond the physical barriers we place in our homes and businesses. Ideally it creates an atmosphere of alertness that permeates the entire community and one that is highly proactive.

I am alert, I see and I report for myself and others!

As always: Think, Plan and Execute crime prevention designs!  Don’t be a victim!

 

Principle 3.

"Preventing Crime is a Responsibility of All Levels and Agencies of Government"

I am often amazed when I go to an awards ceremony and hear about the remarkable actions/ deeds that individuals have accomplished. They truly deserve the recognition. I am equally amazed when I think about the actions/ deeds of all the unsung heroes, all of those who go to work every day and do what they are supposed to do and hardly ever receive any ‘atta’ boy’s/ atta’ girls.’  It is from this vast workforce that crime prevention receives its’ greatest help.

City workers, clerks, secretaries, people going about their daily activities who take the time to see what is going on around them and, more importantly, to report what is not right, are the community’s greatest asset. The clerk who catches a forged document, the street worker who reports an open door, the meter reader who reports a suspicious vehicle are all crime prevention heroes. County Judge, City Mayor, Fireperson, Sanitation Worker all bear the same responsibility to be alert to potential crimes and to take action. For public officials and employees there is no excuse for not reporting illegal activities and in some cases i.e. law enforcement, it is a legal mandate that you must take action.

When the impact of crime is computed in dollars lost to the community and to governmental agencies the impetus to support crime prevention becomes greater. Government can play an invaluable role through the direct funding of county, local, and neighborhood crime prevention projects. It can provide training and technical assistance i.e. Citizens on Patrol training, vehicles and radios. It can provide guidance through policy development which may set parameters and keep legal issues at bay.

Citizens can affect the response of government by knowing who represents you at all levels and finding/ making opportunities to present your concerns, issues and solutions. It is amazing what impact a united community can have.

I know it’s a stretch but look at what a ‘gang’ accomplishes. Individually the members have little power but together they multiply their persona. They have clear goals and objectives albeit criminal. They stand together and support each other. They have tattoos, signs, colors and markings to designate membership and territory. You have little doubt whose territory you are in.

While I am not suggesting neighborhood watch member’s rush out and get tattoo’s  or start spray painting stop signs, fences and buildings, I am suggesting that building a sense of community, of an organization is critical to its’ success. Many of the same traits that a gang uses can be applied to a crime prevention organization. Neighborhood watch signs, marked vehicles, a ‘uniform’, and a strong set of policies and guidelines can take you far. I can see it now …. The Bloods and Crips have been replaced by the CPAC’s (Citizens Patrolling Against Crime). WOW …. We may even have a GASP (Government Actively Supporting People). 

As always: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a crime victim.

 

Principle #4

"Preventing Crime is Linked with Solving Social Problems"

What do you do all day if you have nothing to do? You can’t/ won’t get a job, you think school is stupid, and you blame everyone else for your condition. The answer, more often than not, seems to be that you turn to crime. It’s not hard to find others who think like you and supply all of the answers that fit neatly into your mind set. You seem to fit and find your ‘place’ in society. From then on it is an endless cycle of blame and rationalization for, after all, it is society’s fault for your condition and it’s only fair that you take what they owe you. It doesn’t seem to matter that the people you take from have had nothing to do with your condition nor does the amount of labor or sacrifice they have made to get what they have seem to matter. There is also a glaring lack of understanding that each person is responsible for his/ her actions and what we are IS what WE CHOOSE to be.

Unemployment, truancy, physical surroundings, lack of education and lack of healthcare are said to be underlying social issues. Each one can feed directly in to the amount of crime found within a community. High unemployment is a national as well as a local issue with data to show a correlation between the employment rate, compensation rates and that of crime. When compensation rates fall, crime increases esp. burglary. This seems to be especially true for those without a college education. And speaking of education, there is beau coup (like that scientific term?) of evidence to show that staying in school does make a difference. For every reason to drop out there are more for staying in. Can’t read, can’t write, can’t understand what is going on in a class? Talk to the teacher, to the counselor, to the principal, to someone who can help make a difference. Sometimes you have to fight for what you want/ need (not in the physical sense.) Look no further than sports for examples of perseverance. How many times do you have to shoot a basket, throw a pass, block someone before you can do it well? Skills don’t come easily. Look at the individuals skipping school and hanging on the streets. Watch them play street ball. If they can be that good shooting hoops imagine what their potential is in other areas.

I watched part of “Hoarders” and was amazed that people can live as they do and not see that something is very wrong. You can see the same type of mind set in children. For some, yelling, screaming, physical violence and abuse is the norm. That is how they have seen life to this point and that is the vision that they will bring to their future unless there is intervention. Family and community i.e. school, church, gangs set the standards and often the belief systems that become norms.

If you want to address true crime prevention it is here in our basic fabric of society that you must begin – and end. 

Principle #5

"Preventing Crime is Cost Effective"

How many times have you heard the old expression, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”? We know it works with vehicle maintenance. Regular oil changes, correct tire inflation and checking the fluid systems all pay off in the long run by preventing more costly issues. It is not unusual for someone to get well over 100,000 miles out of a well maintained car. Just think of all those miles without major problems and NO car payments!

Crime is expensive. It costs a fortune in loss goods, damaged property and personal injury. Shoplifting alone can drive prices up. If a store operates on a 1% profit margin i.e. some grocery stores, it takes $70.00 worth of sales to make up for a $7.00 theft. A store operating on a 10% profit margin will have to sell $200.00 worth of merchandise to make up for a $20.00 theft. Experience a lot of thefts and you will never recoup your losses without raising prices.

The same concept seems to hold true for any business that operates for a profit.

With that in mind, it seems that it would be a no brainer to purchase/ install/ lease whatever anti-theft, anti-crime equipment is needed. Wrong, wrong, wrong! We still operate under the assumptions that ‘it will never happen to me: or, ‘it won’t be that bad.’ Spending money for extra security lighting and/or cameras needs to be weighed against what you could potentially experience in losses and damages. Smashed in doors, windows, stolen televisions, jewelry, computers etc., whether you pay for it out of pocket or through an insurance company, will still cost you. Stores who are aggressive in anti-theft policies and procedures i.e. using security cameras, filing charges, experience a decrease in crime. Similarly, malls who invest in lighting, patrols, vigorous prosecution and a high command presence experience a decrease in crimes.

Perhaps the best benefit of such heightened security procedures lies in the mental state of the customers who see and appreciate such tight security. The better they feel, the more they will shop and that makes good financial sense.

Investment in crime prevention isn’t always measured through dollars. It can also be seen through the effort and volunteer hours of the community. Neighborhood Watches, Citizens on Patrol, anti-littering/ dumping issues, and anti-graffiti programs all contribute to keeping costs related to crimes down. In addition, there is the added value of keeping property values high.

Governments and cities are always looking for ways to be more cost efficient. Funding crime prevention initiatives yield some of the best returns for their investments.

Schools also benefit from tough truancy policies and a strong community backing. Students are in school learning – sometimes despite themselves - and not vandalizing, committing burglaries, or criminal acts associated with gangs. Society (you and I) doesn’t have to fund their existence as they spend time incarcerated learning more of the wrong type of skills.

Spend a little ….. Save a lot!

 

Principle #6

"Preventing Crime Requires a Central Role in Law Enforcement"

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that law enforcement and crime prevention should fit together like a hand in a glove. If you prevent a crime from happening, you don’t expend funds on investigations, prosecution, courts or all of the other physical and emotional baggage that goes with it. Crime down. Community positives up. Win Win!

Ok, I can hear the gears whirling in your head. If it were so simple why do we still have crime? Answer:  because it takes the entire community to make a significant and lasting impact on crime. The PoPo are only one part of the solution – albeit an important one.

When you look at a law enforcement department and compare it to any business you will also see why funding of crime prevention programs have to stand in the budget line for their share. Being a governmental entity you are limited to those funds received by the governing body and are only one entity among many seeking funding. Law enforcement spreads a limited amount of monies over all programs. Each department i.e. patrol, criminal investigations, narcotics, communications, training, crime prevention, can justify why it requires the level of funding it does – and then some. The ‘powers that be’ who determine what amount goes where, have hard choices to make and none of them guarantee satisfaction.

How do you determine how much each program receives? Short answer: according to articulated, demonstrable criteria that assess needs (measurable goals).

It’s kind of like being in a highly acclaimed hospital where each surgeon is the best in his/her field. The heart specialists point out that without a healthy beating heart everything else is moot. The brain surgeon counters allowing that without a functioning cerebral cortex even the heart would stop. And on it goes with each ‘specialist ‘claiming the distinction of being the most critical and therefore should receive the most funding. Pity the proctologist who starts out behind in the glory category and perhaps has the most difficulty in the budget justification process.

Is patrol the ‘heart’, criminal investigations the ‘brain’, and crime prevention the, the , the ….. whatever? You can always use more officers on the streets. High visibility, high command presence, high and rapid enforcement all justify funding. The best investigators, the latest equipment, enough manpower to staff 24/7 also speak to funding. These are concrete criteria that speak to funding issues.

Crime Prevention is one of those departments whose funding criteria and effects are somewhat nebulous. It deals with concrete issues of community training, presentations, home/ business inspections, developing Neighborhood Watch programs, Citizen Police Academies and a myriad of pamphlets and prevention handouts. It also operates in a less definable area when it comes to showing concrete results. The successful results of developing a community-wide anti-crime mentality and proactive citizenry may not be visible for several years. You literally are funding the future: a future without having a Crystal Ball to tell you how successful you will/ will not be. 

 

Principle #9

Preventing Crime Requires Tailoring to Local Needs and Conditions

Car manufacturers have it down to a science. Not only can you buy a vehicle with ‘extras’ that they know most people will want (through super advertising they convince you that THIS is what YOU WANT/ NEED) but they structure it so that it ‘reflects you!’ On top of all of that you can buy the super extra special Texas Edition or Super Duper Heavy Duty model! Show your pride in your ride.

Crime Prevention is somewhat different. Each home, each business, each community has its own unique characteristics. One size does not fit all and there is no “Texas Edition” that is better than the other. Perhaps the most important aspect of Crime Prevention is that it is not selling anything. No product endorsements, no ‘blue light’ specials, no “today and today only” pressure to buy a product. It is what it is. It is a common sense/ factual approach to assessing the security status of an entity i.e. home, business, neighborhood and offering options and guidelines to ‘hardening’ the exterior and interior factors that are identified.

Battles over budgets are similar to determining the emphasis needed by a community. While every department would love to have the same amount of money as the others (based on who is getting the most) reality speaks to what is actually needed. This year Planning may need the most funding while next year those responsible for implementing the plans may need the greater amount.  Startup projects such as neighborhood watch programs, Citizens on Patrol, effective lighting for neighborhoods and businesses, require planning or seed money. Maintaining that level of preparedness or awareness should require less funding. Determining the length of time that each project will span should also be considered.

Crime prevention programs are not designed as a one-size-fits-all response. A business with adequate exterior lighting will not receive the same recommendation for lighting that a poorly lit establishment will. A neighborhood close to a major thoroughfare may experience crimes that one a distance away never worries about. Gangs, poverty, economic conditions, age of community, average length of occupancy, apartments/ lease/ rental properties, and education all speak to individual community needs.

Leaders who pontificate about crime prevention programs tend to see a single program as a remedy for all. It is easier to explain and often touted as being the most cost effective. There is usually a copious amount of data supporting the efficacy of its use in particular communities. Truly effective crime prevention programs begin as other successful programs do – with an in-depth examination of needs. It may follow a cycle of: Identification of issues, specific goals and objectives, timeline, implementation strategies/ programs, funding sources, assessment and revision.  Note that normally this is not a one-time process but a long term commitment.

As conditions in a community change i.e. burglary rates drop, the assessment of needs will change. Fewer neighborhood patrols may be considered while increasing the neighborhood watch program. Another neighborhood may now require an increased police presence to address speeding or gang related problems. Crime Prevention is a constantly changing process!

 

Remember: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a crime victim.

“United We Stand”

Sometimes it takes a major event like Hurricane Ike to reinforce life’s simplest lessons.  Case in point: in the aftermath of the storm there was a tremendous outpouring of neighbors helping neighbors. It was amazing to watch those who had lost everything, or almost everything, dig deep within themselves, bond with others to help each other survive and rebuild.

It is this concept of neighbors helping neighbors and looking out for each other that forms one of the basic principles of Crime Prevention. Whether it be through formal organizations like a Neighborhood Watch program or Citizens On Patrol  or a loose knit group of neighbors simply watching out for each other, nothing deters crime as much as active, visible neighbors communicating with each other and with local law enforcement.  Neighbors know when there is a strange vehicle or people in the neighborhood. They know who the elderly are and what medical issues are present. An officer could drive down a street and not be aware of something unusual. A call to the Police Department, a flag down of a patrol unit, a message routed through a block captain are all ways to alert  someone of a potential problem. Training is another key component. Knowing what you can do and what you should never do is critical. The Dickinson Citizens On Patrol program lives by the mantra: “Observe, Report, and Remove yourself from danger!”

The most powerful message that neighbors helping neighbors conveys is that you are not alone! You are no longer one voice trying to be heard but a community. When a burglar or thief comes in your neighborhood and sees signs indicating an active neighborhood watch program, sees neighbors working in the yard taking note of his presence, vehicle etc., he gets the message loud and clear.

If you have not done so, get out and meet your neighbors. Call your local law enforcement and have them come out and help you plan a watch program or phone alert tree. Start with people you know and trust and build from there. Will there be wolves among the sheep? Possibly. Remember that there is strength in numbers.

The bottom line is that you must be proactive. You cannot wait for issues to arise as it will be too late. On the Gulf Coast we have learned that you must prepare ahead of time when a storm threatens. Crime Prevention operates on the same principle. Don’t wait until crime occurs!

Remember: Think, Prepare, and Execute crime prevention designs.

 

“That’s My Mower – I think”

 

I love to watch the modern crime shows like NCIS and CSI and marvel at the technology they use. In one hour they can solve a crime that spans cities, multiple crime scenes, and sometimes oceans. All they need is the smallest particle of evidence and they can trace it back to its prehistoric origins. If only real life were as efficient!

Most police agencies have to work very hard to solve the most common crimes i.e. theft, burglary. Whether it is a flat screen TV, a lawnmower, or a piece of jewelry, not only is hard to trace but once you find it, it’s hard to prove who actually owns it. The problem is often that there is nothing on the item that separates it from others like it and designates it as being yours. How many red lawnmowers with a dent here and a scratch there are in Galveston County? How many flat screen TV’s? How many gold necklaces?

There are several steps that you can take to help yourself and the police recover your property should it ever be stolen. The most important step is to mark it! Get an electric engraving tool and place an identifying number, letters, or symbols somewhere. The marking should be unique and something that you or the police can easily recognize. Take valuable jewelry to an engraver and have your initials inscribed on it. Take a metal die and stamp numbers on your lawn equipment. Most pawn shops keep records about who has brought in what item.  

The second thing that will help is to record all serial numbers. If you own it, record the number on it. Pictures also help in identifying items especially if it shows something unique to that item.  Do not use your social security number, a credit card number, or even your birthday as the identifier. Don’t give a thief another bit of information about you that he can use.  Keep several copies of the serial numbers and give at least one of them to a trusted friend or family member.

Remember: Think, Plan and Execute crime prevention designs!

 

"Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design - Works!"

 

It seems that no matter how carefully we plan there is always something that we may want to change after it is completed. Just a tweak here or a nudge there and it would finally be perfect – almost. So it is with making a home less attractive to a burglar. The whole focus of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is to design elements in to a home or building or to examine what is there and strengthen it and make it less attractive to a burglar. While there is no guarantee that any building or home will be absolutely burglar proof, the more difficult it is to gain entry or to hide that you can make it may contribute to him looking elsewhere.

The first clue to a burglar as to a property’s appeal is with the overall condition of the grounds and the exterior of the building. Neat lawns, trimmed bushes, tell him that the person residing there is alert to conditions and that alertness will probably follow through with the rest of the house. Bushes around the house that are no more than three feet high and trees limbs trimmed so that none are lower than seven feet minimize his ability to hide. Even plants that have thorns may deter someone trying to hide!

Exterior lighting is also an important consideration. Burglars will prefer a dark house over one that is well lit and offers them little or no concealment. Solid security fences, while offering privacy, also provide an opportunity for someone to be in your yard and not be seen from the street or by a neighbor.  Even something as simple as having your house or building number clearly displayed to help police locate it faster helps. Response time is critical to prevention and apprehension.

These are a few ideas to help you look at your property and make it less appealing to a burglar.

 

“A Pane in the … Frame!”

 

In Star Wars the evil Darth Vader was always urging Luke Skywalker to come to the ‘dark side.’ While Luke resisted, it seems as though we have numerous burglars who heard the call and indeed go ‘to the dark side’- at least to gain entry in to a home. When you combine a dark area, some shrubbery to duck behind, no apparent alarm system and a window that only has a single lock on it, you have the perfect’10’ on the burglary accessibility scale.

One of the easiest ways to improve the security of a window is to add an addition lock on the side rail. Hardware stores have several models to pick from ranging from the simple to some that require tools to install. Keep in mind that whichever model you choose, you will need to be able to uninstall it quickly in case of an emergency. Having to search for a screwdriver or hex wrench to unfasten the lock may cost you valuable time if a fire is raging inside. You can increase the security of sliding glass doors by having a bar (often an old broom handle) on the bottom rail and by drilling several holes on the top rail and placing pins or pegs in them to prevent someone from lifting the door up and off the rail. The pins or pegs should not be screwed in and you should be able to pull them out quickly as needed.

Another simple way to discourage a burglar is to add reflective film to a window. Some films boast that they will deter a burglar. Probably the best they do is to slow the entry not prevent it. In addition to reflecting heat, films can be dark enough to prevent someone from looking in and some are coated to completely block anyone from seeing in. It’s good because a burglar can’t see in but neither could the police if someone were inside. Be sure that, if you choose this type of film, you install it correctly because, and reportedly it has happened, if you don’t you will provide interesting viewing for your neighbors!

Finally, there are those windows that have a laminate film between two panes of glass. I have seen someone take a baseball bat to one and although the glass broke, it did not shatter nor was he able to punch a hole through it. Given enough time and motivation, someone could eventually break through.

Remember: You may never be able to make your home 100% burglar proof but you can make it difficult enough to gain entry that he may want to go elsewhere!

Always: Think, Plan and Execute crime prevention designs!

 

“Huff and Puff and Kick Your Door In!”

 

One of the easiest ways for a burglar to gain entry in to a residence is simply by kicking the door in. It doesn’t have to be a power karate kick or the use of a ‘sledge-o- matic.’ Several repeated kicks, properly placed, and the door lock is defeated. When you look at what gives way, surprisingly it isn’t the lock itself but the striker plate on the door frame that usually breaks loose.

In a normal installation package of a door lock that is purchased from a hardware store the strike plate that installs on the door jamb/ frame may be secured by screws that are 1”  or 1 ½” long.  The Texas Crime Prevention Association recommends replacing them with stainless steel screws that are 3 ½” in length and installed at a slight angle.

When you install a door lock be sure to see how far the bolt extends in to the striker plate. It will usually tell you on the package. Don’t install anything with less than a 1” ‘throw’ or extension in to the wall. Something with 1 ½’ throw would be even better. The deeper that the bolt extends in to the wall and the more secure the plate is that holds it; the more difficult it will be to kick in. 

When a burglar sees an ornate entry doors featuring lots of stained glass or glass panels, he sees an opportunity to gain entry without even having to ‘huff and puff.’ If he is lucky, he just has to break a small portion of the glass by the lock, reach in and hope that there is a thumb bar or another key in the lock on the inside.  This will hold true for any exterior door that has a glass panel in it. Ideally the lock should be at such a distance and location from the glass that the burglar can’t get to it by simply reaching in. 

Next time will be a real ‘pane’, as we will look at windows. Remember, if someone wants in your house or building, they will usually find a way. What we are trying to do is make it difficult enough that they will go somewhere else to find an easier target.

Always: Think, Plan and Execute crime prevention designs!