Craig police chief offers tips on preventing theft and burglary
September 12, 1999
Craig — In the past few months, residents have learned that crime sprees can happen even in small-town America. From residential thefts to car thefts to school vandalism to the recent rash of burglaries along Fourth Street, many of the crimes people think won’t happen in Craig have happened.
In August, 30 thefts were reported to the Craig Police Department, a substantial increase over the 15 reported in July. This wave can continue if residents continue the poor vigilance that has been demonstrated several times in the past few weeks, Police Chief Walt Vanatta said.
Several crimes against property have been committed because doors were left unlocked and because simple security precautions were not taken.
Theft is a crime of opportunity, Vanatta said, but businesses can eliminate the opportunity.
“There are several, simple things people can do to prevent themselves from being victims of burglary,” he said.
Vanatta recommends businesses and residents consider installing motion-detecting lights above dark entry points. He said in several recent burglaries, business owners had lights over their doors, but they were not turned on.
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“Most burglars don’t like to work in the light,” Vanatta said. “When you alter their ability to work in the dark it enhances your ability to prevent being a victim.”
Motion-detecting lights are inexpensive, fairly simple to install and effective in preventing break-ins, Vanatta said.
Another way to limit a person’s loss during a break-in is not leave cash in the business after closing. Vanatta also recommends business owners leave cash registers open if there is no cash inside, this will save a business owner the expense of replacing a cash register that is broken in an attempt to get cash.
Posters or decorations in a storefront reduce visibility from the outside, Vanatta said, making it difficult for patrolling officers to see if anyone is inside a business when driving by. All posters do not have to be removed, he said, but anything a business owner can do to help increase visibility is a step toward reducing the opportunity for crime.
One important step in preventing crime is vigilance. According to Vanatta, in two recent instances, people heard suspicious sounds while a crime was in progress, but didn’t want to “bother” the police by making a call that could result in nothing.
“We would rather respond and check it out and find it’s OK than to not have been called at all,” Vanatta said. “On at least two occasions we probably could have caught the burglar inside if people would have called. We’d rather be bothered than not have the opportunity to catch somebody.”
Vanatta also recommended business owners install deadbolts on doors which are more difficult to break.
“With just a little money, we can all secure ourselves better,” he said.
Officers have stepped up checks on area businesses and are stopping people who are out late at night. According to Vanatta, people may see these checks as an infringement, but they are not. Most crimes occur at night and officers are working to prevent that.
“We may just stumble upon someone who’s not just out walking,” he said.
“We all need to work together to reduce the opportunity for crime in the community and we can’t do that alone. We are in small-town America, but it happens here now. Crime has spread everywhere and it’s not getting better.”