Know - Lock - Light

This past summer, there were several local news stories reporting on a spike in property crimes in the College Heights neighborhood of north central Abilene – the same neighborhood to which my family and I just returned after an absence of two years. Many of the crimes being reported were residential break-ins during the day, as well as people having things stolen from their vehicles in the evening. As it turns out, many (not all) of these thefts have been shown to be crimes of opportunity, with would-be burglars entering homes through unlocked back doors, during the day when people were at work. Or they break into unlocked cars at night when the owners are asleep.

In response to this, CCC is announcing a new program we are calling “Know – Lock – Light,” as part of the Abilene Neighborhood Initiative. CCC’s community coordinators have begun contacting homeowners in College Heights, to discuss neighborhood security concerns and offer practical, proven solutions to the problem of residential burglaries.

Know. I’ve actually had homeowners tell me, “I don’t ever invite neighbors to my house. I’m afraid when they come over, they’re just looking for what they can steal.” While this fear is perhaps understandable, the truth is actually just the opposite. No one is suggesting that you turn your home into a neighborhood community center, but Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge will tell you that the more of your neighbors you know, the LESS likely you are to become a victim of property crime.

This is why APD is partnering with CCC on our Neighbor-to-Neighbor Network. It’s a program where we encourage neighbors to get to know one another, and provide tips and strategies for meeting neighbors and building relationships together. We know that by working together, neighbors can make their neighborhoods stronger, safer, and more secure. And that’s true for ALL neighborhoods, all across the city.

For these reasons, we are encouraging people to get to know their neighbors right around them – next door, across the street and down the block. You can make a big difference in improving the quality of life for yourself and your neighbors simply by getting to know one another and watching out for each other.

Lock. My grandmother used to say, “Locks only keep honest people honest.” Locks are good for something else as well, though – they make your home or car less attractive to wanna-be criminals. The fact of the matter is, most criminals are lazy. Generally speaking, they’re looking for easy ways to make money. When we leave our doors unlocked, or leave valuable items unprotected, we are essentially allowing ourselves to become victims of these crimes of opportunity. Such crimes can happen very quickly – as I myself recently experienced.

Last month, while we were still in our now-former neighborhood, I was working on my car, and had my tools on the front porch of the house, while I worked on the car in the driveway. When I finished my repairs, I came in the house to do something, and left my tools on the porch for just a moment. Unfortunately, although it was not long, it was long enough, and when I went back outside, my tools were gone. Bang. Just like that.

We’re finding that many people have deadbolts on their front doors, but perhaps not on other doors of their homes, and criminals are often gaining access by coming through unsecured back doors. So we are offering to GIVE homeowners in the College Heights area new deadbolts, and will even help install them if needed.

Light. The final component of this new initiative calls on homeowners to install security lights, again with the intention of making their homes less inviting to would-be thieves. Obviously, most criminals would prefer being in the dark, rather than being in a well-lit area where people can see what they’re doing.

We are offering to install outdoor home security lights to help our neighbors illuminate their property; these lights are very bright and easy to install, and they are battery-powered, so they won’t affect your electric bill. They are motion activated and are an attractive addition to any home.

CCC has begun contacting College Heights homeowners about this program; if it is successful and additional funding becomes available, we could perhaps expand it to other neighborhoods in the future. Meanwhile, these common sense strategies can help us all avoid becoming targets for burglars and thieves.

Know – Lock – Light: Three steps we can all take to make our neighborhoods safer.

For more information, give me a call at 325-513-0807.