Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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January 14, 2013

Tammie Hetzer-Womack: APD crime prevention unit offers tips to keep thieves away: 01/14/13

ASHLAND — City police Maj. Todd Kelley spends a good deal of time studying multi-colored, statistical spots speckling a map he passes me across his desk. Dots denote crime.

Plain to see, from October through the holidays, Ashland policemen were busy curbing crooks. I don’t like the phrase, “rash of,” but, since the chart I scrutinize looks like a nasty case of chicken pox, I get the drift thieves are hard itches to scratch — with 56 burglaries and break-ins of homes and businesses, and 48 cars, buildings and pop machines pinched in a short few months.

DARE Officer Rob Simpson is surprised by what he sees on a tour of areas where thieves were prominent. Sad fact is families aren’t wrapped in wool. Wolves are outside the door — or somewhere on the city street yanking on an open truck door. These are crimes of opportunity. We’re careless and unthinking.

“Crime prevention is the key to stopping the ability and opportunity for a criminal. Use of instinct, knowledge, common sense and awareness makes you a tough target,” says Simpson, giving some Ashland homes a thumbs-up, others a failing grade as he drives by every district struck since autumn.

Lessons aren’t learned. But simple pick-pocketing precautions, consciousness, responsiveness and good judgment deter most property crimes.

Passing by neighborhood watch areas, Simpson is proud of program growth — and beseeches homeowners to join the (on the lookout) force.

“Those neighborhood watch signs do make a difference,” he points. “They know all eyes are on them when they show up on this street. In return, (there are) fewer crimes here.”

A few other tips:

‰Install deadbolt locks — half of burglars enter through unlocked doors and windows.

‰Secure sliding glass doors with locks or a rigid wooden dowel wedged in the track.

‰Lock double-hung windows by sliding a bolt or nail into a hole drilled at a downward angle through the top of each sash and into the frame.

‰Trim shrubbery hiding doors or windows. Cut tree limbs so robbers can’t climb to second-story windows.

‰Light porches, entrances and yards.

‰Maintain neighborhoods. A dark alley litter, and rundown areas attract criminals.

‰Don’t hide house keys in mailboxes, planters or under doormats.

‰No personal identification on key rings.

‰Leave only an ignition key with mechanics or parking attendants.

‰If you lose your house keys or move into a new home, change locks immediately.

‰Install a peephole or viewer in entry doors. Don’t open doors to strangers. Insist service personnel verify identity before allowing them in.

‰Door chains are untrustworthy and easily-broken.

‰Don’t offer information to “wrong number” callers.

‰Check references of anyone calling about a survey or credit check before offering information.

‰Hang up immediately on threatening or harassing calls.

‰If leaving town, make homes appear occupied. Leave lights and a radio on. Keep garage door closed and locked. Use timing devices to turn inside lights on and off.

‰If away several days, stop mail and papers.

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