Officers encourage proactive measures during holiday season

By Madeline Hamm

The recent break-ins in the Overton Park neighborhood has one police officer suggesting that displaying alarm company signs does not prevent thieves from breaking into homes.
“When I suggest this people think I’m crazy, but if you have an alarm system do not post stickers or yard signs,” said Fort Worth Police Lt. William Hix, a resident of Overton Park.
12359561_10208509194551912_24460116_oHe explained that most burglars have hit enough homes to know how long they have inside until an officer responds depending on the alarm system sign that is displayed. When the burglars kick down a door and the alarm goes off, they have no idea what the alarm company is, how fast people are going to respond, or if it automatically notifies the homeowner.
“The average time for an officer to respond to an alarm call is 25 minutes,” said Officer Charles Gonzalez, the Overton Park neighborhood officer. “Most burglaries happen between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when homeowners are at work and going about their daily lives.”
The most recent occurrence happened on the evening of Dec. 7 at Sheryl Preston’s home located on Ranch View Road. Thieves broke into the master bathroom window located near the back of the couple’s home and stole jewelry.
“For the future we plan on being more careful about who we have in our house because it seems like the thieves knew where to go,” said Preston. “We also plan on installing cameras around the house.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 3.25.05 AM
Comparison of burglaries in the 76109 zip code from November 1st to December 9th from this year compared to last. There were 3 break-ins this year compared to 14 last year. (Red- 2015) (Blue- 2014)

This tactic seemed to help the Brown family when thieves stole two packages from their front porch in late October. Vivint, a home security system, allows the homeowner to communicate with a visitor using cameras that can send live footage to a cell phone. The homeowners did not recover the packages, but they were able to catch the burglars on camera and send it to police.
“I’ve started sending packages to my office downtown so I know it’s protected and we aren’t at risk of losing packages,” said Ronnie Brown, a resident on Arroyo Road.
The area crime prevention specialist, Kala Brown, says sending a package to an office, notifying a neighbor or arranging to pick up at a location can decrease the chances of theft.
“Lighting is one of the biggest and cheapest ways to prevent a break-in,” said Kala Brown.
She also said she disagrees with not displaying signs in the front yard but adds that having efficient locks, cameras and security system will decrease theft.
“Crime is increasing everywhere in Fort Worth and the nation because of the holiday season,” said Kala Brown. “We are also more aware of it because of sites like Nextdoor that are a ‘virtual crime watch.’”
The police department has a program for homeowners to arrange a free home security inspection. The inspection, made by a crime prevention specialist and a police officer, will inform the homeowner of vulnerabilities. An appointment can be arranged by calling 817-991-8476.

Which of the following reasons do you believe most contributes to increases in crime?

Holiday season sparks crime
It’s random
Citizens are actually just more informed via social media
Neighborhoods without organized watch efforts are targeted

Poll Maker