Preventing crime is a law enforcement and community partnership.
Tehachapi has grown over the past 20 years, and its rural nature has changed.
The population has increased, new neighborhoods have been built, and commercial buildings have sprung up; in short it's not how it used to be.
Longtime residents can remember the times when you could leave your house unlocked, even go away for a few days with little or no fear of a crime occurring at your home while you were gone.
During recent months there was an increase in residential and commercial burglaries and thefts in the unincorporated area of Tehachapi.
A review of these cases showed a large number of these crimes, about 35 percent, were "crimes of opportunity," meaning the crime was most likely committed due to the fact that the victim's property was unsecured.
These types of crimes occur when the victim forgets to lock their residence, vehicle or outbuilding and there are criminals afoot in the Tehachapi area that cruise around our neighborhoods looking for this type of opportunity to present itself.
Residents in the Tehachapi area can take simple steps to "harden the target."
First and foremost, citizens should make every effort to secure their property at all times. If you park your vehicle, tractor or sport utility vehicle, don't leave the keys inside. If your residence or outbuilding has a broken window, make sure to properly secure the window as soon as possible.
Mark your property with an identifiable number such as a driver's license number, and do not use your social security number, and retain all serial numbers. The Kern County Sheriff's Office and the Tehachapi Police Department recover many items of stolen property while investigating theft cases. Properly marking your equipment helps ensure it will be returned to you if located during the course of an investigation.
You can also take photos or video recordings of small valuables, such as jewelry and watches. Consider having domestic pets micro chipped, and if you see suspicious activity call the Sheriff's Office or the Tehachapi Police Department immediately. Being an extra set of eyes and ears for law enforcement only requires a small amount of time, effort, and instinct. If it doesn't look right to you then it probably isn't.
Simple steps such as these will help reduce victimization in our community, and by working together to keep our community safe, we can make a difference.
If you would like further information on crime prevention programs, take time to visit the Sheriff's Office Tehachapi Sub-Station or call the Crime Prevention Unit at 661-391-7559. To contact the Sheriff's Office for non-emergencies, call 661-861-3110 or 800-861-3110. For emergencies call 9-1-1. Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411). Just type the keyword "KCSO" prior to the message.
SGT. LEE WALTERS is with the Kern County Sheriff's Office, Tehachapi Sub-Station. Guest Commentary