Burglary is down, but not out, in the Southwest Precinct jurisdiction (West Seattle and South Park). So the last West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting of the year got in-depth advice on how to make homes as burglary-resistant as possible.
First, those in attendance Tuesday night got an update from precinct leadership. Operations Lt. Steve Strand said burglaries are down eight percent this year compared to last, but had a spike a few weeks back. He acknowledged that many people are catching prowlers or thieves on security video and sharing that with neighbors, but not reporting it to police, so if they get a call such as “hey, that guy who’s been prowling (a specific area) is here now,” they have no idea what you’re talking about – so report everything to them too.
Also in precinct updates: Police met earlier in the day with the new Westwood Village Business Block Watch … The Anti-Crime Team had been out looking for a “prolific three-county auto thief” and “almost had him” when a chase and crash ensued; an attendee asked why the suspect’s photo couldn’t be distributed so everyone could be on the lookout, and precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis explained they didn’t want to tip their target about the search … Davis also noted that “shots fired” incident are down this year, 32 so far.
One community concern was brought up – drug dealing near Solstice Park. Capt. Davis invited the resident to call him and get a “long-term project” started. That sort of exchange is what the WSCPCC meeting is all about – come to this meeting, get your questions answered, “this is why we do this.” They’d like to see better turnout, too (Tuesday was single-digit, not counting precinct/police personnel).
One reminder: Drug Take-Back Day is next Saturday, October 26th – 10 am-2 pm as usual. Bring your unwanted/expired prescription medication to the precinct (2300 SW Webster).
BURGLARY PREVENTION: Detective Jon Flores spoke first. He’s in his 12th year with SPD, all in Southwest Precinct, previously patrol and Community Police Team. Here’s what should happen if you’ve been burglarized:
-Report it. Even if it’s something like, your neighbor’s out of town and you think they’ve been broken into.
-Leave the scene undisturbed. Police will be searching for fingerprint evidence, DNA evidence. “When our officers are there, we need it to be as undisturbed a possible.”
-Video is a big deal. Not that it’s going to prevent you from being victimized but it’s a “great tool for identification.” Check with neighbors whose cameras might have caught the suspct – officers will canvass but might not get to everyone.
-Case gets assigned to burglary/theft unit. When it arrives on his desk, he’ll review – evidence? fingerprints? video?
Something you can do now just in case:
-Document serial numbers. It might help police recover stolen property. Highly recommend – model numbers, photos of valuables like jewelry. That too might help them find it.
Print cards – or items with prints – go into evidence. Not a guarantee it’s going to lead to a match but they get examined. Can you get prints from, say, a candy wrapper? asked WSCPC president Richard Miller. Generally no, says Flores, adding that 206-233-2623 is the SW Burglary Unit, if you have a tip. Got video of someone behaving suspiciously? Doesn’t necessarily have to be a confirmed crime for SPD to possibly be interested in it.
Also: Cases labeled “inactive” don’t mean closed forever. Cases can be fluid. May be reopened.king cou
And then – Crime Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Danner and her North Precinct counterpart Mary Amberg took over. Here’s the slide deck from their presentation (or here in PDF):
Forced burglary vs. non-forced: The latter is especially common. Usually residential burglaries happen during the day, 8 am-4 pm, because many people are not home. Amberg explained “occupied burglaries” – someone breaking in thinking you’re not home – so always acknowledge somebody banging on the door – if you alert them that you’re home, that won’t happen. They don’t want to deal wth you, they just want your stuff, something they can steal pretty quickly.
They talked about some of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles – visibility and lines of sight, where your neighbors can see your front yard, your steps, your front window. Clear tree limbs to 7′, keep bushes 3′ high. Large blocks/cinderblocks preferable so people can’t pick up and smash your window. Even small statues, said Amberg – “they go perfectly through sliding glass doors.” Don’t leave ladders out – they might pick up yours and break into the neighbors’ houses. Climbing onto trash cans to get to windows, too.
Have visible address and front-porch lights. “Having your address be visible at night from the street so first responders can get to you” is vital, said Danner.
For doors, use strike plates, deadbolts, doors made of metal or solid wood cores, peephole; if the door has glass in it or near it – within 30 to 40 inches – use a double cylinder lock.
Inside your home, have a room with a door you can lock if you need to seek safety inside the home.
Windows – you can buy cheap, effective locks. Dowels help too but beware, they’ve seen break-ins with windows/sliding doors lifted up and over the dowel. Security film can be applied to glass – it could be shattered but it wouldn’t fall, so breaking in takes longer. They recommend installing it professionally so there are no bubbles, no peeling risk etc.
Alarms – Little cheap ones that make lots of noise can be good.
Cameras – “Really depends on where you place it, and the lighting.”
Watch for unintentionally creating opportunities – say you have a laptop on a table that could be asily grabbed if somebody broke a window and could steal it without even coming into your home or apartment.
If you’re going away, stop your mail and other regular deliveries, tell neighbors, put lights on timers If for some reason you need to reach Seattle 911 from out of town, the long-distance number is 206-583-2111 (say, a live remote camera shows you an intruder in your home).
Sign up for Smart 911 to register your phone # so if you call from your cell phone, for example. the location information will pop up, along with any other information you provide – medical issues, info about your pets, your vehicles, etc.
Last but not least, Danner reminded everyone that you can contact her for a residential safety/security assessment; her email address and phone number are on this page.
The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets third Tuesdays most months but will skip the holiday season, o next meeting is in January – watch for the announcement.