Theft/Vandalism Prevention

It’s That Time of Year Again

Most citizens are familiar with Minnesota’s favorite two seasons, winter and road construction. Well, in law enforcement there is a third season, this one characterized by vandalism and theft. This column is intended to provide readers with helpful tips for minimizing their likelihood of being victims of such crimes.

The nicer weather brings people outdoors, including those with criminal intent who find entertainment in damaging other people’s property stealing their belongings. Because criminals thrive under the cover of darkness, it should be no surprise that vandalism and theft incidents occur most often in the late evening and early morning hours. Avoiding detection and finding easy targets of opportunity is their mission. Your goal is to interfere with this mission before it can be accomplished.

There are several things that citizens can do to help detect these criminals. First, recognizing that most vandalism and theft incidents are committed by juveniles and young adults, citizens should be aware of the countywide curfew ordinance prohibiting juveniles (a person less than 18 years old) from being away from their property after a certain hour. The ordinance sets forth different times for different age groups and for different nights of the week (juveniles are allowed to be out later on weekends than week days), but a simple rule of thumb is that no juvenile should be away from their property after midnight and before 5:00 a.m. Because it is difficult to gauge a person’s age and be certain the person is in violation of the curfew ordinance, a second rule of thumb is “when in doubt, call 911.” Officers will respond, make contact with the suspects, and identify them.

You may remain confidential. Additionally, no person should be in a city park after 10:00 p.m and persons observed loitering in parks after this time should be reported to the police as well.

Second, citizens observing any suspicious activity should not hesitate to call 911. Regardless of the time of day, juveniles and adults of any age observed walking through others’ yards, looking into vehicles, rummaging through mailboxes and similar conduct should be reported to the police so they may be identified. A good rule of thumb is that “if you believe they are up to no good, they likely are.”

Third, don’t make yourself a victim. Put your car in the garage at night. If you cannot, lock it after removing all personal items or, at a minimum, concealing these items from view. Breaking into cars for items such as laptops, CDs, purses, PDAs, phones and the like, referred to as “car shopping” by the criminals, increases greatly in the warm weather months. Additionally, empty your mailbox promptly each day . Do not use it for outgoing mail and, if you must, do not use the red flag. Close your garage door each evening. Exterior lighting activated by motion sensors is also a good deterrent. Finally, join a Crime Watch group, know your neighbors’ schedules and look out for each others’ homes. Report all suspicious activity promptly by calling 911.

Centennial Lakes Police Department - 54 North Road - Circle Pines, MN 55014
Office: 763.784.2501 - Fax: 763.784.0082 - Dispatch/911: 763.427.1212