Crime Prevention Tips

While Fletcher Place is statistically a very safe neighborhood, it is important to do all that you can to protect your home and yourself from crime. The page contains several crime prevention tips compiled from multiple sources over time. Check the city’s Crime Watch page for more tips.

Take a look at your property and decide how best to secure it:

  • Consider putting up a fence in the back yard to make it more secure.
  • Get a home alarm system. The most effective home security systems are those which are highly visible, emit a loud noise when activated, and transmit an immediate signal to a security device. Most services provide a yard sign and window stickers which warn burglars that the house is well protected. Use them!
  • If you have keys with a panic button, put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies.
  • Lock the doors and windows and make sure locks are secure. Many crimes occur simply because a window or door is unlocked.
  • Most doors can be broken down easily with one swift kick. Even the most expensive doors often come with cheap door jams. Reinforce key strike-points with a steel product such as �Door Jamb Armor� and install deadbolt door locks.
  • Install quality window locks, such as key locks. For double-hung windows, it is also possible to �pin� windows by drilling a small hole into a 45-degree angle between the inner and outer frames, then insert a nail that can be removed. Secure basement windows with grilles or grates.
  • Sliding glass doors can offer easy access if they are not properly secured. You can secure them by installing commercially available locks or putting a broomstick or dowel in the inside track to jam the door. To prevent the door being lifted off the track, drill a hole through the sliding door frame and the fixed frame. Then insert a pin in the hole.
  • Make it harder for the culprit to see the house (add rose bushes etc, but keep them well trimmed around windows and doors). Cut back tree limbs that a thief could use to climb to an upperlevel window.
  • Add �noise� such as pebbles around the house.
  • Consider getting a dog – or at least a �Dog on Premises� sign.
  • Clearly display the number on the house so police and emergency personnel can find the address quickly.
  • Make sure your home address is also posted on the alley side of your house, so if the police are using the alley, they can quickly and easily find your home.
  • If you have just moved into a residence, consider re-keying the locks.

Find ways to make things harder for thieves:

  • A criminal wants to get in and get out as quickly and as quietly as possible, and to do it without anyone seeing him. Your job is to make that as difficult as you can.
  • Don’t advertise possessions with open curtains.
  • If you take something in the house, such as a large TV, cover it so it can�t be seen when you take it in.
  • Inventory personal property and make sure there is adequate insurance coverage. Write down the serial numbers (not the model numbers) of such items as televisions and DVD recorders.
  • An effective way to identify appliances involves those return address labels provided by not-for-profit organizations. Without taking the paper backing off, slip one of the labels into the back of the device so that it is hidden, but can be found later during a police investigation.
  • Keep records in a safe place so that things such as receipts can be readily found in case of theft.
  • Mark personal property, especially electronics, lawn equipment, bicycles, etc. Marked property is harder for thieves to resell. Consider an engraving pen or an ultraviolet marker.
  • Protect yourself from identity theft by shredding old personal documents before throwing them in the trash.
  • Don’t hide spare keys outside the house.
  • Don�t leave your garage door open if you�re working in front of the house. And don�t leave valuables such as bicycles sitting around even for a short period of time.
  • When you are in the yard or taking a walk, be aware of your surroundings including passing cars and pedestrian traffic. A car could pull up quickly and surprise you.
  • Leave no valuable possessions in vehicles. People should carry their insurance card and registration with them, or hide them in an inconspicuous place (not in the glove compartment).
  • Park the car in the garage, if there is one.
  • If you park your vehicle in front of the house, don�t leave your registration and garage door opener in it. This is a bad combination — now the thief knows where you live and how to get in. Instead, bring the garage door opener in with you.
  • Keep a camera handy to snap a photo of any suspicious behavior you see going on outside. The flash of a camera at night does wonders to scare off suspicious characters loitering in cars or near homes.
  • If there are any homes in the neighborhood that are vacant and/or have high weeds, contact Health and Hospital. These homes become nesting areas for vagrants or drug users.

Make your block a safer place to live:

  • Talk to each other in the neighborhood and let people know of suspicious behavior.
  • If a person doesn�t live in your neighborhood, there�s nothing wrong with asking them if they need your help. And while you�re at it, be observant enough to be able to provide a description of that person, if needed.
  • If you are away for awhile, have someone collect your mail and newspaper and keep the grass mowed.
  • If you travel, create the illusion that you�re at home by getting some timers that will turn lights on and off in different areas of your house throughout the evening. Lights burning 24 hours a day signal an empty house.
  • Have people keep a watch on your house while you are gone.
  • Take special care to check on older neighbors and keep an eye on their houses.
  • Consider whether to elect crime watch block captains. It is important to remember, however, that each person is responsible for their safety and it can be too easy to rely on a block captain to do it all.

Contact 911 in case of emergency:

  • Do not open your door unless you know who is on the other side. Legitimate delivery people will be able to show identification. Remember, door chains do not protect you from someone pushing their way in. Even if the person appears injured, do not open your door – call 911 for assistance.
  • When calling 911, always give your location first. Marion County’s 911 system does not have the capability to locate you from your cell phone.
  • The non-emergency police number (327-3811) should be used instead of 911 to report incidents that have already occurred, where the criminal is long gone.
  • Be descriptive when giving a report about criminals or suspicious characters. What are they wearing? Are they carrying weapons? What is their height, weight, age? Which direction did they go?
  • Tell the operator if anyone is in need of medical attention and the nature of their injuries.
  • After calling the police, do not tie up your phone line. They may need to call you back for more information.
  • If there is a hold time when you call 911, do not hang up. Calls are answered in the order in which they are received. So, redialing will put you back at the end of the queue.
  • Do not confront criminals yourself – always call the police for help.
  • At night, if you think you hear someone breaking in, leave safely if you can, then call police. If you can�t leave, lock yourself in a room with a phone and call police. If an intruder is in your room, pretend you are asleep.
  • If approaching your house something looks questionable � a slit screen, a broken window or an open door � don�t go in. Call the police from a neighbor�s house or a public phone.

Keep safety in mind when you are shopping:

  • Don�t shop or walk alone at any time if it is possible. Safety is greater in numbers.
  • Stay alert and be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Park in a well-lighted space. Furthermore, our senses work automatically; if you feel uneasy then you probably need to find another place to park your car until that feeling goes away.
  • Please don�t walk in our dark alleys, alone at night. Remember, anyone can be a victim of a crime. Therefore, take the precautions and walk around rather than taking the short cut, where no one can see you but the criminals.
  • Hide shopping bags and packages in the car or in the trunk. Anything left in plain view � from your holiday gifts to spare change, sunglasses, CDs, cell phones or briefcases � may tempt a thief.
  • Help prevent your vehicle from being stolen by always locking your car, closing the windows, and using anti-theft devices.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash; pay with a check or credit card whenever possible.
  • Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers. Don’t overburden yourself with packages. Be extra careful with purses and wallets. Carry a purse close to your body, not dangling by the straps. Put a wallet in an inside coat or front pants pocket.
  • Have your keys ready and your cell phone available if you need to call for help. If you have a car alarm, having your keys in hand will allow you to sound it immediately.
  • Shopping with kids? Teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard if you get separated.
  • Even if you are in a hurry, never get out of your car when a stranger is nearby. Always make sure they have walked far enough away that you feel safe.
  • Although it’s cold, never leave your vehicle running while you run inside your home or a store � even if for only a minute or two.

As a final thought from the National Crime Prevention Council: �Many burglars will spend no more than 60 seconds trying to break into a home. Good locks – and good neighbors who watch out for each other – can be big deterrents to burglars. Crime needs opportunity. No opportunity, no crime.