Locking doors: The key to preventing theft

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Preventing crime in your neighborhood doesn't have to mean donning a spandex uniform or engaging in vigilante justice. In fact, the 81st Security Forces Squadron would advise against these tactics, especially when something as simple as locking your doors can be just as effective.

Crime prevention is a constant priority for security forces officers, but measures can also be taken by base personnel to deter certain crimes such as theft.

"The No. 1 way to deter theft is to just lock your car," said Staff Sgt. Bradley Jenkins, 81st SFS police services noncommissioned officer in charge. "It seems like an obvious thing, but the majority of larceny reports we get are from unlocked vehicles."

"Since Feb. 1, there have been six cases of larceny reported, five of them vehicle thefts," Jenkins added. "All six of these reports concerned unsecured property."

Whether vehicles and garages are left unlocked due to forgetfulness or feelings of security, David Schlothauer, 81st SFS investigator, had a couple pointers for base personnel.

First, being safe doesn't mean it's OK to leave property out in the open.

"We're not saying that you aren't safe on base or in base housing," said Schlothauer. "But, people need to realize that anyone can walk into off-base privatized housing. Anyone can live out there; it's not just military."

"Also, anyone can be sponsored on base," added Jenkins. "Sponsors are responsible for their guests, but they don't have control of the actions of their guests."

Second, stolen items don't have to be gone forever if owners take precautions outside of locking their doors.

"If you keep the serial numbers of electronics, we can run that through a website to see where and when it gets pawned," said Schlothauer.

"There are also apps for phones and tablets that track theft in different ways," added Jenkins. "Catching a thief is doable, but it's nearly impossible if we have nothing to go on."

The redHanded and RED HANDED apps for Android and iPhone, respectively, take silent photos when security locks are tripped on smartphones. The photos are emailed to the owner or posted to their Facebook.

It is also possible to synchronize compatible products to track the location of stolen counterparts.

Another way to assist is to report suspicious activity when it is happening, rather than after a crime has already occurred.

"We have dedicated patrols for the base housing areas," said Jenkins. "But, we can't be everywhere at once. We can't do anything to help if we don't know where to be.

"It's better to call and have the situation turn out to be nothing than just assume everything is OK," added Schlothauer.

Preventing crime may not be everyone's job, but anyone is capable of ensuring a safer environment by simply removing the opportunity for theft.

The crime stopper number, an anonymous tip line, is 377-2000.