YCSO: Despite security, winter residents' homes still face risk
Some winter visitors to Yuma are returning to discover their homes had been burglarized over the summer.
Lt. Darren Simmons explained that while the Yuma County Sheriff's Office does its best to provide winter and year-round residents with a little extra home security while they are away through its Vacation Notification Form, burglaries do still occur.
“It's that time of year when everybody is coming back and we are finding some burglaries that we weren't aware of,” Simmons said.
Simmons did say, however, that there were some groups committing burglaries over the summer in both occupied and unoccupied homes, but they have all been identified and are either in jail or currently being sought.
To sign up for the service, county residents need to fill out a Vacation Notification Form, which lets the sheriff's office know where they live, when they'll be gone and what property they have left behind in the home.
Sheriff's deputies and volunteers will then make periodic checks of the homes of those who completed and turned in the forms. The checks help safeguard the homes in the owners' absences. And if a burglary does unfortunately happen, the completed form provides deputies with a list of possessions that should help in tracking down and recovering any stolen property.
The sheriff's office began offering the service a number of years ago in response to burglaries of Foothills homes belonging to winter visitors who were away for the summer.
Simmons said quite often when deputies who patrol in the Foothills see a garage door that is open, they will stop and inform the homeowner, no matter what time, day or not. An open garage door, he said, provides burglars not only a possible access to the home, but also a place to be concealed while they are trying to get in.
Simmons said car burglaries are usually always crimes of opportunity due to people leaving their vehicles unlocked, with valuables in plain sight.
“It's people walking around shaking doors,” Simmons said. “They will walk up to a car and if the door is open, it only takes about 20 or 30 seconds to grab whatever they see and they are gone.”
The most important thing someone can do, Simmons said, is to be the eyes and ears of a your neighborhood and report any suspicious activity to the sheriff's office.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity or has information about the burglaries can call the sheriff's office at 783-4427.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.