17 Jun A Message from our Community Action Officer, Ben Harris
I hope that all is going well for you in 2015. For us in the Mtn View Precinct, the first quarter of the year has passed with some real challenges. As we are strained with less than ideal manpower, we have seen a burglary spike in some of our neighborhoods. Despite excellent, and hardworking officers working on these problems, we still need as much help and participation from you. Crime prevention at the citizen/resident level will always be an important issue to us as a Department, and I hope that we all stay vigilant for ourselves and each other.
As many of you are aware, our city has seen difficult financial times in recent years. An unfortunate effect has been the reduction in our street uniform presence, and our patrol officer ratio is now approximately 1 officer per 5000 residents. Many of the typical “patrol” activities that we took for granted 5 years ago, are sometimes impossible to accomplish today because of limited manpower coupled with regular call volume. Where officers were available to drive through neighborhoods, check alleys, stop suspicious persons, conduct follow up on investigations, there are now many times when officers do not have free time to do this typical patrol work.
As we try to do more with less, I encourage you to stay vigilant and engage in some tenets of crime prevention.
Know your neighbors, next to you, across the street, and behind the alley. Know what vehicles they drive, so that if you see their car or truck in the alley, it will not look strange. When you do see a strange person or vehicle in your alley, please consider watching the behavior for a minute and call Police and request an officer check on it, if the behavior is concerning or criminal.
Get out into your neighborhood! Walk with your dog(s), children, significant other, ride a bike and be seen. Crime thrives on anonymity, opportunity, and apathy. Simply by being out in the neighborhood and watching, this removes an element of perceived apathy in a neighborhood. Calling Police about suspicious persons, vehicles, or incidents can lend to removing the anonymity and opportunity.
Lock locks, close doors and windows, set alarms! Things out of sight, are out of mind, and home alarms that are not set will not deter a burglar. Regarding home alarm systems, if you do not have one there are many products on the market that are not the traditional systems that require contracts, or have expensive monitoring agreements. Some of these systems can be purchased online, tailored to you specific needs, and set up and installed by you. There are also video monitoring systems available online and in local retailers that link to your smart phone and give alerts.
Keep a record of your valuables, especially those with serial numbers. We have requirements with pawn shops and other resellers that they record precious metal purchases and serial numbered items, and report them to us. We find stolen property in this way, and although the process of getting the items back to the victim can be protracted, this results in burglary suspects being identified. If we take out one burglar, we often prevent 10 more burglaries! Document serial numbers and photograph valuables! This can be done with some of our block watch forms, http://www.phxblockwatch.org. -Officer Ben Harris