Wednesday, Apr 02 2014 06:00 AM

Public Safety Talk: Burglaries decline, but still important to be careful

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Teri Cryer of Tehachapi Police Department.

The Tehachapi Police Department has recently reported the positive decline in burglary. In 2012, burglaries in the city of Tehachapi were reported as 210, and in 2013, this number decreased to 183 burglaries, a decline of 13 percent. Whereas this information is great news, the fact still exists that there is more that can be done to decrease this number.

It's unfortunate how often break ins, be it home or vehicle, occur because the owner simply does not perform the basic function of locking the door. Yes, most of the time the old tried and true methods do still work! Of course there is more that can be done than locking doors, but I cannot stress enough how many cases the TPD and other agencies get involving the ole unlocked door.

Since the inception of online companies such as EBay and Craigslist in 1995, the modern thief is now finding multiple sources in which to offload their stolen goods. Online sale sources is one, a few others are garage sales, gold buying companies which seem to now be on every corner, and pawn shops. With this being the case, marking your property is crucial. Marking your property also makes the items less attractive to would-be thieves.

Law enforcement recovers a lot of stolen property in numerous ways, and once in our possession, we then begin the tedious and head scratching task of trying to identify who the property belongs to. Most victims cannot supply any information on their property beyond a basic description such as what the item is and the color i.e. a black Dell laptop. What this means for the victim is that they will most likely never see their possessions again. Law Enforcement agencies need more information from property owners for the recovery process, such as a serial number or picture, which makes all the difference.

There are a few new innovative tools in the world of crime prevention and property recovery that will benefit all involved, except for the criminal of course.

The Tehachapi Police Department has recently joined forces with CopDots. This technology is available to consumers in order to provide law enforcement officers with contact information for located property. CopDots is known as the DNA for personal property and is accomplished by the new micro dot technology where micro dots containing a unique PIN connect your property to you. The CopDots pen applicator contains more than 3,000 micro dots and will mark approximately 30 items such as tools, jewelry, electronics, etc. The micro dots adhere to the property with military grade glue which can only be removed by grinding them off, which then damages the item. Pawn shops are always suspicious of articles that show damage due to possible identification removal. TPD and local law enforcement will be looking for CopDots on property. The glue becomes apparent under a blue light and the Tehachapi Police Department, as well as local pawn shops are equipped to detect them.

CopDots greatly increase the odds of thieves being caught and convicted, and so deterring many criminals from stealing property marked with CopDots. CopDots are currently available for just under $30 at local retailers. Visit CopDots.com for more information. CopDots may also be available in the near future at the police department with proceeds going to the volunteer programs.

Another source that assists the homeowner in documenting their possessions is "Know Your Stuff.org". This site allows you to securely keep information on you and your property. You can upload pictures of your property, document serial and model numbers and more. Your information will then be accessible from any computer in the event you cannot access your own.

The California state legislature passed bill AB 391 in 2012. The bill should significantly increase law enforcement's ability to track pawned items. The bill will create a statewide electronic system that would simplify the reporting process and make records more easily accessible by law enforcement. As the system now stands, the pawn shops have to report all items pawned in their store to their local law enforcement agency. It is then up to that agency to disperse each individual "pawn slip" to the local law enforcement agency in which the person who pawned the items, resides. Some agencies are so inundated with pawn slips, separating them all and mailing them to the appropriate agencies is just not a viable option. So at that point, communication fails and potential stolen property can never be tracked. With the implementation of this new bill, when the system goes online, any item pawned within the state of California will be in one state wide system and all law enforcement will have access to it. The bill reads that this should begin occurring "early 2013." Tracking and recovering stolen property should be easier than ever at that point.

There are a lot of home owners who have never suffered a loss through general theft or a burglary, which unfortunately, typically leaves a sense of nonurgency to protect your things from theft until after an event occurs. Please help your local law enforcement agencies help you by marking and documenting your property.

TERI CRYER is the Tehachapi Police Department's community resource for education on crime prevention, neighborhood watch programs, community outreach programs and much more.

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