In previous articles we presented ideas for Ranch and Rural Crime Prevention. In this month’s article I would like to reiterate the importance of recognizing suspicious activity. Through an organized Rural Crime Watch, group citizen awareness and a proper response to suspected criminal activity will enable our communities to remain safe.
Observing Suspicious Activities
Be aware. Anything that seems out of the ordinary in your area may be a crime in progress. You know your neighborhood better than we do. The following examples may indicate possible criminal activity and should be reported to your local Law Enforcement Agency:
- Sounds of breaking glass or unusual noise
- Noises such as screaming, dogs barking continuously or other out of the ordinary noises.
- A person exhibiting mental or physical symptoms of being injured or under the influence of drugs.
- Open doors or windows at a closed business or unoccupied residence.
- Repair operations at a non-business location (Stolen Property or vehicles being altered).
Timeliness and accuracy are critical in calling in and the reporting of suspicious activity. Call 911 to report life threatening incidents or crimes in progress. Use the non-emergency line of the Sheriff’s Office to report non-emergencies. For Sheriff’s Jurisdiction the Non-emergency line is (707) 565-2121. It is a good idea to program this number into your mobile phone.
Stranger’s that come into a neighborhood are becoming more and more common place. There are legitimate door to door sales and repair people that appear in residential neighborhoods frequently. Criminals have been frequently disguising themselves as these workers. It is imperative that you remain aware of the activities of all nonresidents in an area. Call Law Enforcement and report suspicious persons if the following circumstances exist:
- Heavy traffic to and from a residence, particularly if it occurs on a daily basis (could be Drug dealing, Vice, or Stolen property)
- Offering items for sale at a low price
- Loitering or driving through a neighborhood several times or appearing as a delivery person with a wrong address.
- Subject running in the neighborhood carrying property.
- Subjects going door to door in an area and going to a rear of a residence instead of the front door.
- Forcing entrance or entering an unoccupied residence.
- Subject loitering around schools or secluded areas.
- Any other activity that you feel may be suspicious involving a stranger to your area.
If you see vehicles in the vicinity of your residence or neighborhood involved in the following circumstances you should report this activity to your local Law Enforcement Agency:
- Slow moving vehicles, without lights at night.
- Parked vehicles occupied or unoccupied that do not belong in the area.
- Business transactions taking place amongst strangers that stopped in your neighborhood.
- Persons stripping parts from parked vehicles.
- Persons hauling trash in the back of their vehicles and obviously looking for a place to dump it.
When reporting suspicious persons and activities make sure and give accurate descriptions of them. If you can take a picture with your mobile phone to document the person or vehicle. Do not do this if you feel it will endanger you in any way.
Write down a description of the person or vehicle including specific characteristics. What happened, when it happened and whether there may be anyone injured or any weapons might be involved. Vehicle descriptions should include any license plate information, color and approximate age. Pay special attention to any specific unusual characteristics the vehicle might have such as decals, body damage, vinyl roof, mag wheels etc.
If you see suspicious persons in your neighborhood and report them, get into the habit of writing down the following information:
- Hair color and style
- Facial Hair
- Scars,marks or tattoos
- Voice Characteristics
- Direction of travel
As always if you have questions about reporting suspicious persons, vehicles or circumstances contact a member of the Rural Crimes task force or Crime prevention officer. Call 565-3940 for more information.