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Keeping your home secure

Elizabeth Medora~ 1/14/2015

NORTH VALLEY –Feeling safe at home is a high priority – no one wants to be the victim of a crime. But what are the best ways to keep your home and belongings secure?

“Some of the best tips we can offer are the most basic ones,” Phoenix Police Sergeant Jonathan Howard noted.

“One of our reminders we put out during the holidays was our TLC campaign. It works year round and not just in vehicles. We encourage people to TAKE, LOCK IT, CONCEAL IT.”

Removing easily seen cash, electronics, firearms, etc. from cars makes them less attractive to thieves.  

Howard noted that Phoenix PD encourages residents to “secure their property, walk around once in a while and look for obvious situations that would ‘invite’ a thief, and get to know your neighbors so you can watch out for each other.”

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Officer Christopher Hegstrom concurred with Sergeant Howard’s safety tips.

“Lock your doors (homes and cars), and don’t leave valuables in plain sight,” Hegstrom stated. “In the home – leave a light on also a radio or television on to have some noise.”

Locally, the sheriff’s office provides police services for Anthem east of the I-17 and New River and provides law enforcement through contract services to Carefree and Cave Creek. The Phoenix Police Department provides police services to Anthem west of the I-17, Tramonto, and the Sonoran Foothills area.

Neither MCSO nor Phoenix PD is reporting a crime wave in the North Valley.

“Overall, property crime is down significantly in Phoenix,” Howard noted. “Current crime stats with maps and locations are available at www.raidsonline.com. People can check their neighborhoods for current criminal activity.  This is currently a 14-day turn around on reporting.”

Hegstrom noted that MCSO had arrested a burglary suspect recently.

“There was a slight rise in burglaries, but a suspect was taken into custody in connection with the small rash,” Hegstrom said.

If you do have your car or home broken into, both MCSO and Phoenix PD stress that it’s crucial to call law enforcement immediately.

The first thing you should do is contact your local law enforcement agency,” Hegstrom emphasized. “If your home or car has been burglarized, in order to preserve the crime scene for the deputies to see the aftermath of the crime, limit your contact with the home or car.”

“Call the police and avoid touching anything that may have suspect evidence, like DNA or fingerprints,” Howard said. “Avoid going into a burglarized home unless you know the suspects have already left. The police will do this for you if you are unsure.”

Howard also noted that these crimes often lack witnesses; neighbors can help each other by watching out for suspicious activity. Howard recommended that residents record serial numbers and model numbers and take photographs of high-profile items to help the police recover and return the items if they are stolen.

Joining the neighborhood watch offers benefits to residents who want to keep watchful for community crime. Law enforcement recommends community alertness, with a reminder for citizens not to confront suspects on their own.

“Being alert and aware of your surroundings and watching out for your neighborhood is everyone's responsibility,” Howard noted. “That being said, I would not encourage untrained people to ‘patrol.’”

“The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is always looking for good witnesses to a crime; however, we never encourage the public to act as law enforcement,” Hegstrom said. “What we do ask is for you to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity or anything that appears to be out of the ordinary in your neighborhood.”

In Anthem, residents can join the Anthem Neighborhood Watch, which works to prevent community crime. For more information, see www.onlineatanthem.com/anthem-neighborhood-watch.

Phoenix residents can join a local Blockwatch group.

“We encourage people to start or join their local Blockwatch group to ensure their activities in neighborhood safety remain lawful and safe,” Howard said. “Residents can contact their local precinct Community Action Officer for additional information. Precinct and officer information can be found at www.phoenix.gov/police.”

If you are the victim of a crime, call 911 or call a non-emergency line as soon as possible. MCSO’s non-emergency line is (602) 876-1011. Phoenix Police’s non-emergency line is (602) 262-6151. If you’re not sure if you are in MCSO or Phoenix PD’s enforcement area, call either number and they can connect you to your local law enforcement.