“Security isn’t always convenient. This is especially true when it comes to summer crime prevention and the opportunistic theft that we see each year,” says Meg Juarez, Crime Prevention Coordinator. With awareness and preparation, residents can curb the trends that are prevalent during the warmer months including increases in bicycle thefts and theft from yards. It will require them to lock up and put things away, but their actions are an effective crime prevention strategy during this time of year.
Although crimes of opportunity consistently occur throughout the year, we do see trends emerge during summer months. A crime-of-opportunity theft happens when an offender passes by a property, sees something that can be stolen with little risk of being observed or arrested and takes advantage of that opportunity. Each summer, we hear about tools, bicycles, strollers, art, outdoor furniture, alcohol and other items being stolen from front or side yards, porches, accessible balconies and open garages.Incidents typically occur when property is left unattended while a resident gardens in the backyard or takes a break inside of the home.
Summer is also a time of year when doors, windows and gates are left unsecured and become easy access for burglars. Some examples of what we hear about:
- Windows are left open for ventilation and unsecured while the resident is out and a burglar enters the residence. This is especially problematic when the open window is accessible and visible from the street.
- Doors to homes are left unlocked, including ones in attached garages, and something is quickly stolen from the house such as a purse.
- Tools and climbing devices, such as ladders, are left out in the yard and used to access vulnerable doors and windows to homes. For example, a thief may gain entry through a second floor window that is not secured.
- Window air conditioning units on first-floor-accessible windows are not properly secured and can be pushed from the window.
The best ways to prevent crimes of opportunity and secure entry points during the hot summer months:
- Lock garages, windows and doors when you are out or aren’t able to observe these areas.
- If you want to leave windows open for ventilation, use a track lock, slide bolt or other secondary locking mechanism to control access.
- Secure climbing devices and tools so they can’t be used to access your home.
- Install locks on the gates to your backyard.
- Take valuables from publicly accessible spaces into your home when you can’t monitor them.
- Look out for your neighbors and report suspicious activity to the police.
When it’s warm outside, bicycle theft ramps up as more people ride to work and other activities. A 2015 survey of over 500 bicycles parked in Portland conducted by Project 529, a bike registration and recovery service, revealed that owners were not locking their bicycles properly and many were using worn down U-Locks. Best practices include:
- Locking a sturdy U-Lock to the bike frame, a wheel and the bike rack. Many cable locks are easily cut and should not be used as primary security.
- Securing your bicycle to a strong and immovable rack that is located in a well-lit and well-traveled area. Make sure that your bike can’t be lifted from the rack.
- Bringing all removable parts including the seat with you or locking them up.
- If you are storing your bicycle in a gated parking garage, lock it to a bike rack.
- Taking a picture of your bike and keeping its serial number on file. A lot of bicycles are recovered, but can’t be linked to the owner because the serial number is not reported to the police. Consequently, the suspect may not be charged with a crime. You can register your bike online at bikeindex.org and project529.com.
If you are a victim of theft, please report it to the police by contacting 503-823-3333. Many thefts can be reported online at wwww.portlandoregon.gov/police/cor.
Crime prevention isn’t always convenient, but it’s worth the extra effort. When you are aware of the trends that occur throughout the year, you can employ the most effective strategies to reduce risk.
This article was first published in El Hispanic News: