Police, sheriff's office report rise in burglaries
The Yuma County Sheriff's Office and the Yuma Police Department say there has been a rash of thefts and burglaries throughout the county, with the Foothills area experiencing the bulk of these types of crimes.
Sheriff's office spokesman Capt. Eben Bratcher said most of them have been what he termed crimes of opportunity, due to the public not securing their homes and vehicles.
Bratcher said over the past month, the sheriff's office has responded to 22 vehicle and 10 residential burglaries. He said what deputies are finding is that homeowners are not securing their vehicles in their driveways, and garage doors are being left open and unsecured.
“People are making themselves easy targets for thieves. We have been getting hit hard with vehicle burglaries, and a majority of them were unlocked. Sometimes people forget to lock their vehicles, or it's something they just don't even think about.”
Bratcher explained that a crime of opportunity is one that has essentially been made easy to commit. “The perpetrator thinks it will be easy and that they will be able get away with it.”
YPD Sgt. Leanne Worthen said officers have also received a significant number of reports for early-morning vehicle burglaries in several locations in the city of Yuma.
“The public needs to be aware this is happening and take the proper steps not to make themselves an easy target,” Worthen said. “These criminals aren't opposed to walking down a street checking car doors to see if they are unlocked.”
While the sheriff's office and police department work hard to reduce these types of crimes, Bratcher and Worthen said there are things people can do to help prevent them.
Bratcher said never leave high-dollar items in your vehicle such as laptops, cell phones, cameras and weapons. If you must leave them in your car unattended, he added, put them in the trunk before you reach your destination.
“These items can be easily removed and concealed by someone walking down the street or placed in an awaiting vehicle.”
Other suggestions for securing your vehicle include:
• Lock all of the doors and take out the keys.
• Completely roll up all car windows.
• Engrave expensive accessories.
• Use anti-theft devices such as a tire or steering wheel lock and an audible alarm.
• Take out removable radios and faceplates.
• Avoid parking between large vehicles (they provide cover for thieves).
• Avoid leaving your vehicles running while unattended (especially while warming the vehicle).
• Always park your vehicle in a garage if you own one.
When it comes to homes, Bratcher said these type of thieves are on the hunt for easy targets, such as garages left open and houses with dark yards and lots of places to hide. Some suggestions for making a thief think twice about trying to rob your home include:
• Never leave strollers, bikes, lawn mowers, tools, sporting equipment or any other valuable items sitting unattended around your home.
• Never leave laptops, purses, keys, cameras or other valuable items next to a door or visible from a window.
• Don't leave an extra key under a doormat.
• Keep your yard clean. Prune back shrubbery so it doesn't hide doors or windows.
• Turn on your exterior lights when it gets dark and leave them on all night.
• Turn on a radio or television when you leave to give the impression someone is home.
Bratcher and Worthen also suggested watching for suspicious vehicles and persons moving about the area.
City residents may also take advantage of the Neighborhood Watch Program offered by YPD. The program provides crime prevention education and awareness training to a neighborhood and how to report suspicious or criminal activity to police.
Anyone interested in this program may visit YPD's website at www.ci.yuma.az.us or call the Public Affairs Unit at 373-4700.
If anyone has any information related to these types of cases, call YCSO at 783-4427 or YPD at 373-4700.
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.