Oakdale is a very nice city with beautiful neighborhoods. We take pride in the city we live in and with the things we own. We landscape our yards, put a fresh coat of paint on the fence or house to make it look nice, keep the car washed and waxed, and sometimes get aftermarket accessories for our cars to personalize it or make it look a little better. Most of us know our neighbors and have a strong sense of community and security. Despite our commitment to these values and our heightened sense of security, understand that there is an element in our society with an agenda that threatens our way of life. In the first three months of this year 190 theft-related reports were taken by the Oakdale Police Department. That number does not account for thefts that went unreported. So, what can you do and watch out for to reduce the chances of falling victim to theft or other criminal activity? What can you do if you suspect that criminal activity is occurring?
First, to reduce your risk of falling victim to theft or other criminal activity, make sure to lock your residence and vehicle doors. Avoid leaving property inside your vehicle that is visible from outside your vehicle, and make sure to never leave your vehicle engine running if you aren’t in it. Secure your garage if you are not in or about the area and don’t leave anything of value unsecured on your property, such as tools or other equipment. We know that would-be thieves like to window shop. They look through windows, check for unsecured or open doors, and are always on the lookout for unsecured or unattended property. When they see something that “meets the eye,” they steal it!
Some environmental conditions that attract criminals are poor lighting, as it gives anonymity to would be thieves, and overgrown shrubbery that can provide a hiding place for someone who is watching for the right moment to commit their criminal activity. Motion lights or other exterior lighting about the perimeter of your residence can deter people who don’t want to be seen approaching your residence. Make sure to keep shrubs about your residence trimmed as not to facilitate hiding places. Try to keep from having tall shrubs obstruct your view from your widows so that you have a clear view of your property. The windows are the eyes of your home, and a criminal does not want to be seen. Be aware that untidy landscaping and property might convey the message to a criminal that the area is an easy target for criminal activity because the owner is not concerned with what happens to the property. Try to keep your property tidy. Also, barriers such as fences, planters, plants, etc., send the subliminal message, “DO NOT ENTER.”
Who and what should you watch out for? Be suspicious of that unfamiliar vehicle or person wandering about your neighborhood during the day or night with no apparent destination. Be aware of people walking about late at night who are wearing dark clothing, looking into vehicles, or checking vehicle doors. These people might be window-shopping in your neighborhood.
So what should you do if you witness suspicious or criminal activity? For in-progress emergencies, such as someone in the act of committing a crime, call 9-1-1. For suspicious activity, call the police department’s non-emergency telephone line, 847-2231. When you call the police department, know the location where the activity is occurring. If you know the actual address, that’s great. If you don’t have the actual address, describe where the activity occurring, such as “in the front yard across the street from 123 Somewhere Street,” or “near the corner of Somewhere Street and Anywhere Avenue.” Try to have a “head to toe” physical and clothing description of the involved parties. If there is a vehicle involved, try to get the vehicle license plate number including the state where the license plate was issued, as well as the color, make, and model of the vehicle. If the involved parties or vehicle leave the area, report their direction of travel. (You may place anonymous calls but recognize that you will not be able to get the outcome unless it is published in the local newspaper. Also, as a rule, police officers do not divulge the identity of callers even if you provide your name and number.)
Lastly, please take precautions to reduce your chances of falling victim to theft or other criminal activity. Don’t ignore that “gut feeling” when you see or hear something or someone suspicious. Don’t be afraid of being embarrassed if your suspicions are wrong. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Please, call us so we can help you.
Cop Corner is a monthly column provided by officers of the Oakdale Police Department, offering a variety of information and safety tips.