We send a huge THANK YOU to our Neighbor, Bruce for sharing the notes he took at our meeting. There are many practical things you can do to keep you, your family and your property safe.First speaker was Cyndie Parks, Community Programs Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) She’s the city representative in charge of setting up neighborhood block watches spoke.
City population was 49,000 in 1994. Now 95,500 population, but at the same rate of residential burglaries.
Cyndie says that the rate is low (though of course victims don’t feel that way).
- If you see something unusual (e.g. strange car parked for a long time on your cul de sac) you are encouraged to call 911 and let them know. Police will do a drive by and check it out.
- Make your house look uninviting from the street.
- Dense landscape makes house more inviting to thieves.
- Easy access to back of your house is inviting.
- It’s OK to put ‘beware of dog’ or alarm signs on your house, even if you don’t have those safeguards.
- Use landscaping, lighting, alarms, dogs, or anything else that discourages thieves.
- M.O. for burglar: Never come alone; always have a get-away-car; will knock/ring a lot first to make sure no one is home. If you think a burglar is knocking, *do* answer, because its a deterrent.
- If you’re not home, leave talk radio on to make it sound like there is someone talking inside. Do *not* turn it up super loud, because that sounds contrived/unnatural.
- Since decline of economy in 2008 we’ve seen exponential growth in burglary (home and car break-ins).
- Don’t leave registration documents in the car, because a car thief might use them once they steal your car.
Q: What is the most common way to get in?
A: Thieves have no problem with forced entry. Used to be through unlocked doors, but now forced doors and broken windows. Most common is kicking in the door. Big lock going into a strike plate with small screws is not strong. You need 2-3 inch screws. Door from garage into laundry room is another way in that needs to be secured.
- You can put a laminated sheet over your glass. [Not sure what she was talking about.]
- They like to break in side windows next to front door, then unlock the front door.
- They like to break in kitchen windows, sliding glass doors. They don’t care about shards or noise.
- They look for cars warming up in driveways and steal.
- Put an adjustable curtain rod across your sliding door midway up. It’s a visible deterrent.
- Faux cameras with red-blinking lights are great deterrents.
Q: Why is there a known drug house across the street from me, after many years of being known?
A: In City of Renton there’s a nuisance ordinance. This doesn’t apply to your street outside the city limits.
Three block watch capitains spoke:
“Ken” from area near Maywood middle school.
- He has 80 participanting neighbors, uses Yahoo groups.
- By sending email around to neighbors about suspicious activity they have actually busted several crooks.
- Biggest thing is ‘vigilance’. If you see a dirt bag walking through your neighborhood, walk up and say ‘hi’. He will move on. (No need to be aggressive, the point is to demonstrate vigilance/presence.)
Q: Can you mount a camera in a public place?
A: Don’t think so. Though you *can* point a camera from your property into a public place.
Deputy often calls Ken to see if he has footage of crime.
Fry’s has good options for camera surveillance systems.
Q: Why don’t the cop’s catch the crooks?
A (Ken): The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I had several deputies’ numbers in my phone and call often.
New speaker, Justin:
I’ve had multiple property thefts, incl. a stolen motorcycle. What I noticed is that they scoped the place out ahead of time, e.g. I saw unfamiliar footprints on my property. I noticed that nothing was stolen that was illuminated, only property in unlit parts of my 1 acre lot.
It’s a mistake not to take down license plates of unfamiliar cars. You don’t have to call it in, just write it down.
A productive example was when we got 12 home owners to mail a letter with a lot supporting evidence (lic. plates, etc.) to King County Sheriff. In that case they ‘took care of it’.
Pete Eberle (rhymes with Everly) (Pres. of 4 Creeks UAC):
We encourage people to start up block watches.
We do a lot with mapping. We’ve mapped out block watches to see areas that are not covered. If you contact us we can help you with map-based strategizing.
Maple Hills is great. They have 50% participation in their block watch.
Facebook is great. You can take a pic of a suspicious car and everyone can see it right away. Only problem is that some people don’t like Facebook and, of course, some neighbors don’t use computers at all.
Q: How do we start a block watch?
A: First decide what region you want to take care of. Next contact Gwen or me (Pete) and we’ll create a map, help identify the neighbors that you will contact. Gwen says, “Do it today! Set a time to have coffee with your neighbors, then call me and I’ll tell you what you do in that meeting to set up the watch.”
Comment: Once you photo’ the lic of a suspicious car, print the photo and stick it under their windshield wiper. That will let them know people have their eye on them.
Maples Hills put a faux camera right at their neighborhood entrance, so anyone coming in immediately sees a big camera pointing at them.
Big outdoor LEDs are great, very bright.
Pete: Feel free to contact your local council member, Regan Dunn, and tell him you want more police protection in our rural area. Having less police presence that in Renton is an incentive for thieves to be more active out here than in the city. There was a sheriff store front in Briarwood mall that was closed due to budget cuts.
Pete: To see what criminal activity is going on go to: crimereports.com. This is an aggregation of reports from contributing individuals.
Pete: National Night Out is first Tues. in August. Good chance to meet neighbors and first responders like police and fireman.
Gwen: I want to enumerate what we can do:
- control foliage, plant thorny bushes outside windows
- reinforce locks
- driveway sensor
- cowbells on gates
- boat horn next to your bed
- keep car alarm fob next to your night stand
- faux security cameras are $15 at Fry’s
Q: What can I take a picture of legally?
A: On the street, in public, you can take photo’s. Don’t know about people in their car, will need to check it out.
Ken: Don’t do anything that puts you in harm’s way. Forward info to police.
Justin: I’ve been seeing open mailboxes.
- Put locking gas cap on your car if parked on the street.
- If someone comes to your door to sell something, ask for their “peddler’s permit”. If they don’t have one tell them to go away, call 911. (Someone added “take their picture.”)
People in the audience recommended the following security system companies:
- Home Safety Security