Sound and safe
First, I’ve got to give a word of thanks to Decatur Metro for sharing my analysis of Decatur’s crime stats. Decatur Metro is an important source of news for this community and I’m deeply appreciative of their efforts to keep us informed about what’s going on.
While I have your attention on the crime thing, I wanted to share something I posted on our neighborhood forum the other day regarding burglaries. As I noted a few days ago, burglaries in Decatur have gone up quite a bit this year. We’ve had our share of problems around West Howard, to be sure. At one point I was told the U.S. Postal Service was investigating the disappearance of packages in the neighborhood after a couple of my packages got themselves disappeared.
(One of them was a collection of the greatest Joker stories ever told. On the off chance the person who stole it is reading this blog – or much of anything – I encourage you to check out “The Laughing Fish.” It’s a hoot.)
Here are my suggestions as relayed to my neighbors:
As you all know, at the end of summer we saw an uptick in the amount of burglaries in our area. I work as a reporter and on a regular basis receive tip sheets from law enforcement. The reality is that police can’t be everywhere at once and a certain amount of property crime will occur no matter how many precautions we take. That said, there are a few basic things we can do to protect ourselves and look out for our neighbors. This list is a combination of what I’ve learned and personally observed. I welcome any other suggestions.
1) If you see something, say something. I know that sounds cliche, but staying in touch with police can help them be a little more proactive. Yesterday I was about to leave for work when I noticed a truck idling by the fence in front of the public housing complex. I’d never seen that truck before and its purpose wasn’t readily apparent. I also got the sense he was waiting on me to leave. As soon as I drove by to take a better look and snap a picture, he drove away and quickly made himself scarce. If you’ve never seen someone and can’t figure out what they’re up to, give the police a heads up. There’s no harm in them checking something out.
2) Unlike Atlanta, you can actually call the Decatur Police without dialing 911. That is probably the most confusing thing about living in Atlanta. Most of us wouldn’t think to call 911 unless something serious was happening: fire, assault, etc. In Atlanta, they make you call 911 for everything. They say it helps them figure out where they’re needed so they can allocate resources appropriately. My cynical side wonders if it’s to cut down on the amount of “non-serious” calls that turn out to be nothing. In Decatur, you have a number of ways to reach the police department. If you just want them to check something out, call 404-373-6551 or email Chief Mike Booker and Deputy Keith Lee. (Mike.Booker@decaturga.com and Keith.Lee@decaturga.com). You pay taxes for police. You might as well get your money’s worth. (Personal note: they’re both nice guys and they do care about what’s going on, so be polite when you talk to them, please.)
3) If you work a non-traditional schedule or work in Decatur, drop by the house during the week. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity. If you work in Decatur or work an irregular schedule, go home periodically at random times of day. Drive around the block, if you’re so inclined. Some of these burglars are professionals. They look for patterns and know that Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 is when most of us are at work. Also, don’t do a mail stop or newspaper stop when you go on vacation. Ask a neighbor if they’ll grab that stuff for you while you’re away and let your neighbors know if you’re leaving. People are also buying timers for their house lights that cycle on and off at random times. I personally don’t see the benefit if your car isn’t there, but police recommend it.
4) Make sure your renter’s/home owner’s insurance is up to date. If you are ever a victim of a property crime, at least you won’t be SOL if you’ve got decent insurance. Make sure you have a low deductible plan, $500 or less if you can get it. I check mine periodically to make sure it’s current and paid.
Those are my suggestions.”
I just remembered one more. For the love of all that is holy DON’T LEAVE YOUR ELECTRONIC STUFF IN YOUR CAR. Where burglars can be highly sophisticated criminals, people who take stuff out of your car are fairly unambitious. How much skill does it take to smash a window with a rock and grab an iPhone left sitting in the car seat? People who steal from cars tend to go for the low-hanging fruit. Don’t provide them any incentive. The cost to repair your window will likely be more than whatever your electronic device was actually worth.
I’d also like to thank the folks who previously lived in Carrboro, N.C. who chimed in on my post about whether the city’s demographics were similar enough to make a good comparison with Decatur. Lots of good ideas and I’m already thinking about a few different directions I could go with that info.