Crime has gotten a lot of attention this summer and it has people talking. We’ve had a few burglars go on heroin-crazed crime sprees, hitting a few neighborhoods recently where burglaries are rare. Fortunately, thanks to alert neighbors, talented cops and crime scene officers, we’ve managed to get a few locked up. Locking up a few criminals in Duluth can have a dramatic impact on our crime numbers because they are low to begin with. I’ve seen one active burglar singlehandedly double our burglary rate. While our burglaries are still below last year, I anticipate we will see a further drop
now that we have a couple of habitual offenders locked up.
We have been walloped with thefts from cars the last couple of months. There is no doubt that being a victim of this crime impacts your perception of crime and safety, but we can have a tremendous impact on theft from cars. Two weeks ago I read through the reports on thefts from cars and saw a handgun along with other valuables had been taken from a car parked near a trailhead. These are the goods that keep thieves coming back for more. Trailhead parking lots are one of the top targets for car prowlers because people often leave valuables in their cars while they use the trail.
Our goal is to prevent crime before it happens, so the best thing you can do is remove all items of value from your car and call 911 right away when you see suspicious behavior. Burglary prevention is also something you should remember. Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming a burglary victim:
• The overwhelming majority of our burglaries happens during daylight hours. Very few occur at night.
• Don’t let mail and newspapers pile up at your door or mailbox. Don’t leave garbage cans at the street. Ask a trusted neighbor to pick these items up and keep an eye on your house.
• If you’re going on winter vacation, have fresh snow shoveled and make it look like someone is living there.
• Know your neighbors, their cars, and who is coming and going.
• Call 911 if you suspect anything suspicious. I had a citizen notify me she had a suspicious woman at her door selling items. The citizen Facebooked me a day or two later and the woman at her door just may have been a burglar (with her boyfriend waiting around the corner). Trust your instinct: our best cops trust their sixth sense and they are usually right. Don’t wait to call 911 if something does not seem right.
• Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed back from doors and windows.
• Some sliding doors can be opened easily from the outside by an experienced burglar.
• Consider a security system or cameras. There are inexpensive systems that are monitored by a company or will call your cell phone when there is movement in your house. With some systems you can see video or hear audio.
• Have good lighting around your home, including motion lights.
• If you have been the victim of a burglary, your chances of being burglarized again greatly increase.
• Engrave valuable items with your driver’s license number. This helps police locate you if the items are recovered.
• Try to trick the burglars: leave a radio or TV on and have lights on a timer when you leave. Make your house looked occupied.
• Use good deadbolt locks on your doors. Consider reinforcing doors and windows in areas that are hidden out of view.
• Consider starting or joining a citizen patrol or block club.
Call my office at 730-5020 if you’d like further information. Keep in mind that while it may seem that there is more crime in general than in the past, in many cases that simply is not the case. The number of burglaries we have now is almost half of what we had in the 1970s —how’s that for a perception buster? Please keep these suggestions in mind and help us meet our primary goal to prevent the crime from happening in the first place.