Many of the residential crimes that occur within the Borough of Mount Ephraim are crimes of impulse and opportunity. Often times these crimes can be avoided by taking simple, yet affective steps to deter the opportunistic criminal from your property. The following ideas are just a few fundamental and basic tips that our residents can take and modify to meet their specific needs. Remember, there is no way to completely guarantee that you’ll never become a victim of someone else’s greed. However, a strong and close nit community, a proactive and dedicated Police Department and your own situational awareness can absolutely reduce the likelihood of inviting a criminal into your life.
As basic as it may sound, you’d be surprised at how many crimes occur in unlocked motor vehicles, homes, sheds, garages or other buildings. In some cases criminals will simply find the most dimly lit areas of town and walk the streets pulling on car door handles. Many of these opportunistic crooks will pass by 10 or 20 cars that are locked or appear to be alarmed knowing all too well that they will eventually find 1 or 2 that are unlocked for easy access. Once they find that unlocked car, they can easily climb inside, deactivate the interior lighting and essentially have unlimited time to methodically go through their proceeds without ever being seen under the cloak of darkness. Loose change, cash, electronics (like GPS units, IPods, MP3 players, Cell Phones, etc…) and documents often become the target of theft in these cases and ultimately leave the victims shaking their heads wondering “why them?” The answer is simple; your neighbor’s car was locked and yours wasn’t which in turn made you and your vehicle an “easy target” for the opportunistic thief. Take the following steps to reduce your vulnerability and make sure you don’t become an easy target.
•Lock your doors!Cars come with door locks for a reason, use them and make your car one of the 10 or 20 that got passed up that night.
•Remove all valuables and electronics from clear view. Leaving a GPS unit on your windshield over night is very tempting for the opportunistic crook. Advertising expensive contents is a good way to make your car a lucrative score. Use your glove compartment, center console or door pockets to keep your valuables (that must remain in the car) out of sight. Never leave money, wallets or purses out in the open in your vehicle.
•If possible, park your car in well lit areas. We don’t all have driveways accessible so if you have an option to park under a street light, do so. If not, try to angle one of your residential exterior lights so that it lights up your normal parking spot as much as possible without creating a void on your property.
•Finally, keep an eye out for your neighbors and if you see suspicious activity, report it to the Police Department immediately. If we all work together to keep our neighborhoods safe, the opportunistic crooks won’t have a chance.
Much like the simple steps to protecting your vehicle, there are a few simple yet affective ways to combat opportunistic and impulsive crimes against your home and property as well. In many cases, criminals look for dark or dimly lit areas that will assist in hiding their activity. If they have a block of homes to choose from, they will almost always go to the one that appears to be the least prepared for their visit. Again, this is all about opportunity and ease of success. If you leave a box of cash in your driveway for the night, chances are it’s not going to be there when you wake up; the same goes for your personal property. Things we overlook or view as menial can be very valuable on the black market or at the scrap yard. That brings me to my next topic; metal, scrap and anything that contains metal. If it has metal in it, you can bet that it’s got value to an opportunistic thief. The following steps are just a few ways to help remove yourself from the sights of a crook looking for an easy score.
•Lighting is an essential part of basic security. If you strategically place security lighting or motion sensitive lighting around your property, you can very effectively protect yourself from the opportunistic thief. Set your lighting up to eliminate shadows in and around windows and doorways so that there is nowhere to hide illicit behavior.
•Keep movable metal objects under cover or out of direct view from the street. Often times “scrappers” will prowl the streets at night looking for metal that they can turn in to the scrap yard for cash. This is a growing trend among thieves and the items that are being stolen are sometimes things that you’d never expect would have value to a petty thief. Avoid tempting would be scrappers to enter your property by keeping this stuff in the back yard or under a tarp. Many times the inviting scrap metal can lead a crook to discovering other security risks on your property that they would otherwise have never noticed.
•If you spend long nights or even days at a time away from home, try to put interior lights on timers and encourage neighbors to park in your driveway from time to time. This creates the perception that someone is home and the residence may not be an easy target. On the other hand, a home that portrays the perception of being vacant or empty for long periods of time makes for a very tempting target to the opportunistic thief.
•Finally, maintain contact with your neighbors and help each other keep an eye out for suspicious behavior in the neighborhood. If you see something that looks out of place or a person that seems suspicious, call the police and give the best description you can. The best thing you can do in this case is be a good witness and supply the dispatcher with the best description and direction of travel as possible.