WALLA WALLA — Local law enforcement agencies would like area residents to be on the alert following a recent rash of burglaries and vehicle prowls.
The Walla Walla Police Department, working with the College Place Police Department and the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, reports close to 50 vehicles have been prowled, and about 35 home burglarized since mid-November.
The burglaries and vehicle prowls have been reported both during the day, and at night when residents may be home, according to a news release.
Burglars appear to be especially targeting homes that are just outside or inside the city limits, where the response time for law enforcement may be several minutes, according to the release.
As an example of tactics, the release explains how a burglar may often start by knocking on a door to see if anyone is home. If someone does answer the door, the suspect may ask for a drink of water or to use the phone as an excuse for knocking.
If there is no answer, criminals have been known to go around and check back doors, or even doggie doors, to gain access. Or they may break a window or kick a door open, then wait to see if anyone responds. They may then return after a while and enter the home if nothing happens.
The following tips may help residents from being victims of property crimes:
Make sure all doors and windows are locked and sliding glass doors are secured with a wooden dowel or other device to prevent it from being opened.
Install new lighting and/or check the working condition of your exterior lighting.
Be aware of trees and shrubs that can be a hiding place for criminals. Trim these areas if possible.
Make sure all vehicles are locked and parked off the street if possible. Never leave any valuables inside your vehicle. Many car prowlers will enter only vehicles that are unlocked as they don’t want to risk making noise to gain entry.
Be alert of suspicious people or vehicles parked in your neighborhood; whether they are occupied or not, call 911. This is how many of these crimes are solved.
If you are going to be away from home, have your newspaper and mail held, or have a neighbor you trust hold them for you. Also, have someone remove your garbage container from the curb. It can let thieves know you are not home.
If you hear noises outside your home, make noise or turn on lights to let them know the house is not empty and call 911. If you hear someone inside your home, call 911 immediately and try to lock yourself inside a room.
Think twice before confronting a criminal, even if you are armed. There have been many instances where the victim’s weapon has been used on the victim.
Maria Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8317.