APD Suggestions for Crime Prevention:
According to Officer Kelly LaHood (APD Central West District Command Kelly.LaHood@ ci.austin.tx.us, 974-5788), there are many scams going around at the moment, so APD recommends that you be sure to call and verify any business cards given out. For example, there have been reports of thefts associated with folks in a white van who offer to perform tree trimming services. According to reports, these folks are two very thin (possible drug users) white males. They drive a van that is older and may have green hand painted writing on the van that says discount tree trimming or cheap tree trimming. If you see this van in your area, please call 911 and at least get the license plate. Many people report the van and thefts but no one has yet given us the license plate. Thank you for your eyes and ears! And be cautious!!!
The new APD District Representative for our neighborhood (SPO David J. Knutson #3002, Central West District Representative, Ph: 512-974-5917) provided the following list of tips for preventing vehicle burglary:
VEHICLE BURGLARY PREVENTION TIPS
Most of these crimes occur because people leave car doors unlocked or leave valuables in plain sight. The most likely targets for theft are briefcases, purses, wallets, expensive sunglasses, watches, camera gear, MP3 players, PDAs, gym bags, sports equipment, auto parts, CDs, speakers, power tools, spare change, and mail.
Vehicle burglaries are crimes of opportunity, and carelessness often results in vehicles being broken into; however, residents can minimize their chances of being a victim by taking a few simple steps:
Keep all car doors and windows closed and locked – even if it’s a quick errand. This sounds like common sense, but about 30% of vehicle burglaries are from vehicles where the doors were not locked or a window was down.
Do not leave valuables or packages in plain sight in your vehicle. This may sound like a simple solution, but it happens all the time where items of value are left in plain view. It automatically makes you a target. If you must leave valuables in the car, put them in the trunk.
If your vehicle has a built in security system, use it. If you don’t have a security system installed, it is worth the investment – it may also qualify you for a discount on your auto insurance.
Park your vehicle in an area that is visible to the public and well-lit at night. If possible, park your car in the garage. If garage parking is not available, the next best option is to park your car in the driveway and install motion-sensor security lighting on your home.
Never leave an electronic garage opener in the car. It can provide a thief easy access to your home.
Headed to the gym or hike & bike trail? Burglars are, too. Hiding valuables under the seat is not enough. Bring as few items as possible with you – leave jewelry, watches, laptops, etc at home. Keep any necessary valuables like keys, identification, and credit cards on your person.
Keep a list of serial numbers (include make and model information, as well) for the commonly used electronic equipment you may keep in the car, like CD players, stereo faceplates, MP3 players, etc. Keep a copy of this inventory in a safe place such as a safe deposit box. We also suggest that you engrave your driver’s license number on your valuables to aid in their recovery, should they be lost or stolen.
If your car is burglarized, please report it to the police department immediately.
These simple steps should be used whenever you park your car, whether you are just “running in for a minute” or parking for the evening.
In addition to protecting your own property from criminals, you can be a good neighbor by watching out for suspicious persons or activities in your area. No one knows a neighborhood better than the people who live there, so the Police Department depends on the assistance of concerned, responsible residents to report suspicious persons or activity. If you see something that looks suspicious, call 9-1-1. Suspicious activity may include:
A person looking into parked cars may be looking for a car to steal or for valuables left in plain view inside.
The sound of breaking glass or car alarm could mean a vehicle break-in.
Any vehicle without lights at night, cruising slowly, or following a course that seems aimless or repetitive is suspicious in any location. Occupants may be “casing” for a burglary.
Persons walking around a neighborhood pulling on car door handles may be looking for unlocked vehicles to steal from.
Residents are encouraged to call 9-1-1 immediately about all suspicious activity. Don’t worry about feeling embarrassed if your suspicions are wrong; think instead about what could happen if your suspicions are right and you don’t call. It is the Police Department’s job to investigate suspicious matters, and any assistance in spotting suspicious persons or activities is appreciated.
REMEMBER: A thief can burglarize your vehicle in less than 30 seconds!
Austin Police Department – Central West Area Command
APD 2008 Resource Manual – A copy of the APD Resource Manual for 2008 is posted at Resource Manual January 2008.pdf. The manual includes information on when to make 911 and 311 calls, an alphabetical listing of city services, and a listing of agencies providing housing and human services.
Reporting VIN Etching – When folks don’t report petty crimes or other little things they feel the Police can’t solve, things can escalate to where it is a real problem, which becomes frustrating for folks. The police are not bothered by hearing from citizens about petty crimes or “little things,” and we should never hesitate to call 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 to report an incident. The police are dispatched according to a priority system. If an Officer is available he/she will be sent; if not when one becomes available they will be sent out. While the police do have limited resources, there is a “Crime Analyst” whose job is to track crime by frequency and types. This information is used to deploy, patrol officers, special units, develop plans to curve the crime. The police look for “Hot Spots,” and when the neighborhood starts reporting crime and demanding action, then the police know there is a problem and focus their attention on it.
So if you have an aggressive solicitor, or one whose story does not seem right, or one who tries your door handle before knocking…..Call 9-1-1. Let the police check them out. If they aren’t breaking the law, fine. It at least lets them know that the police know they are in the area. It also lets them know folks care enough to ask the police to check things out in their neighborhood. Sometimes, the police are lucky to find a person who has outstanding warrants and they get picked up. If it is suspicious to you, then it is worth calling in. This also lets the patrol officer assigned to your area know what kind of things to look for and he/she patrols with a better purpose.
As for yourselves be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave property in plain view in either your vehicles or your yards. These become tempting crimes of opportunity. Use motion sensor lighting. Perhaps put radios or TVs on timers during the day when your gone to work. Say one timer in a front room for a couple of hours, then a second in another room for a later time. Crooks look around and try to listen to see if someone is home. Close blinds so they can’t look in. The best thing of all is neighbors looking out for neighbors.