With daytime high and overnight low temperatures expected to remain above average in the near future, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office would like to offer the public summertime crime prevention tips.
“We have some of the best weather in the country this time of year, but unfortunately when temperature pushes 90 degrees and even hotter, we start to see people doing things that could potentially open them up to becoming a victim of crime,” said Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Davidson, who supervises the MCDA Property Crimes Unit. “When you’re looking for ways to cool off, whether you’re at home or outside, it’s a good reminder to use common sense.”
The District Attorney’s Office has not seen any noticeable increase in property crime recently. However, car prowls, thefts, burglaries and other property crimes historically tend to increase during the spring and summer months.
“It’s not a huge surprise to see a small increase in property crime this time of year,” Davidson said. “When you think about it, people are staying outside later, they’re going on vacation, and with more people on the street, it’s not uncommon that crimes of opportunity start to present themselves.”
Home Safety Tips
If you don’t have air conditioning to cool your residence, this time of year can be unbearable, especially with temperatures reaching the 90s.
“A lot of people will rush to open their windows to cool down their homes but that presents some unique safety hazards,” Davidson said.
If there are children inside your home, be aware of window fall-related injuries. Each year more than 4,000 children are treated because of injuries they suffered because of falling from a window. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends households with children install guards or stops to prevent windows from opening more than four inches.
Preventing a crime of opportunity starts with doing a quick survey of your residence.
“Simply eliminating the opportunity to become a victim of a crime entirely is one of the best crime prevention tips we can offer,” Davidson said.
To help cool down a home and to increase air circulation, many people will open their front, patio or side doors.
“That can help cool down a house, especially in the early morning hours and into the late evening, but you want to be sure you’re able to keep an eye on that entry point to prevent anyone from coming into your house,” Davidson said.
If you step away or are no longer able to watch the doorway, close the door and lock it. You should do this every time, even if you’re in another room for a short amount of time. A potential thief only needs a few seconds to steal something from an unattended room.
Law enforcement recommends trimming shrubs and trees around your property so doors and windows are clearly visible. This will allow you to see out and will also prevent someone from hiding against your house. You may also want to consider installing motion activated lights.
When doing the survey around your residence, look for and then remove any items that may draw unwanted attention to your home. In addition to items being stolen, you want to protect your property from being vandalized.
“We’ve seen car tires randomly being slashed at night, windows being shattered, mailboxes destroyed and other acts of criminal mischief,” Davidson said. “Taking the time to secure items or put them away before they can become damaged or stolen will save you a lot of time from having to file a police report and deal with any insurance claims.”
As previously reported by local media, the number of car prowls in Multnomah County has significantly increased over the last three years. As law enforcement and this office work to stop that increase, residents of Multnomah County can help by doing the following:
- Always lock your doors and roll up your windows when you leave your car
- Never leave your keys inside your vehicle after parking
- Never leave your car unattended in an effort to cool it down
- Be careful about where you park; if able, park in a well-lit area
- Consider adding a GPS tracking device to your vehicle
“We would also recommend buying one of those a steering wheel locks,” Davidson said. “It’s a bit old school but it can prevent thieves from stealing your vehicle.”
In the spring and summer months, it’s not uncommon to grab a lot of stuff and throw it into your car as you run your errands.
“If you’re not prepared to carry your valuables with you once you leave your car, don’t bring them in the first place,” Davidson said. “It takes a thief mere seconds to break out a window, grab your stuff and flee the area.”
Out and about
Multnomah County has nearly unlimited options for spring and summertime activities, such as hiking and exploring the Columbia River Gorge, swimming at Blue Lake Regional Park or cycling out on Sauvie Island.
“When you’re outside taking advantage of everything Multnomah County has to offer, your guard might be lowered,” Davidson said.
If you’re at a beach, make sure not to leave any personal property unattended. It’s always a good idea to swim with a buddy to prevent drowning. If you go to the beach with a group, someone will likely be around to watch your property, but if everyone steps away to get food or to go swimming at the same time, your left behind items could be a quick target for thieves.
When leaving your residence for a vacation, it’s a good idea to let someone you trust know about your travel plans. If possible, find a nearby neighbor who can keep an eye on your property.
Other tips include:
- Consider having your mail/deliveries held at the post office or distribution center until you return
- Consider installing and activating home security systems that include high quality video surveillance equipment
- Ensure doors, windows and all other entry points to your residence are secured and locked
- Don’t advertise that your away from home on social media
- Set up light timers for inside your residence and also ensure they aren’t too consistent that a criminal could detect a pattern
- Ask a neighbor to park their car in your driveway occasionally to make it look like someone is home
- Ask a neighbor or hire someone to mow your lawn or do yard work
- Alert your security company that you’ll be away
- Alert your apartment complex/landlord know that you’ll be away
- Remove any spare keys
- Ensure interior doors that lead from the garage to house are locked
- Set exterior lights to a timer or install motion activated lights
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office also wants to remind the public to never leave children or pets inside a vehicle during the hot weather. Read more about that by clicking here.