February 25, 2005
String of burglaries don’t
represent a crime spree
Neighborhood Watch imperative
By Mary Dockendorf
Special to the Times
A recent string of burglaries
impelled more than 150 concerned residents of the
Evergreen Hills community to meet with their neighbors
and members of the San Jose Police Department (SJPD)
at Evergreen Elementary School on Feb. 16. They
came to discuss how to prevent future occurrences
and increase their home security.
Councilmember Dave Cortese
invited Captain Diane Urban of the SJPD’s
Foothill Division and officers who work in the recently
affected beat blocks to the open community meeting.
Cortese let the community know that he is concerned
with the issue and is looking to take steps into
making the area safer.
“We have become quite
aware that there has been a pattern or trend in
the crime in these neighborhoods,” Cortese
said, based on calls coming into the District 8
Not a crime spree
Urban ran the statistics
on two specific police “beat blocks”
in the location of the reported problems. The first
beat block was bordered by
Quimby to the north, Aborn to the south, White to
the west and the foothills to the east. The second
beat block was bordered by Aborn to the north, Yuerba
Buena to the south, Kettmann to the west and the
foothills to the east.
|Based on statistics, Urban
assured the group that recent burglaries do
not represent a huge crime spree.
“I can assure you
this is no crime spree,” Urban said. Statistics
of crime rate in the area support the fact that
these burglaries are not as extreme as they may
Urban pointed out some tips
for protecting oneself against burglary. Most burglaries
occur where the greatest opportunity arises. Warming
up the car in the morning without a driver in it
was a prime example of making it easy to steal a
car. Don’t leave your keys in the car or leave
the car running unattended.
Engraving property was an important tip that can
help retrieve stolen items. Urban suggested either
writing down serial numbers of large items, or engraving
a driver’s license number on it. Avoid engraving
social security numbers on any piece on property,
because criminals can misuse that critical information.
A solution that the residents
and the San Jose Police Department both agreed upon
was the need for Neighborhood Watch. Kim Gaddis
of the Crime Prevention Unit explained the program
along with what the residents could do to prevent
crime in their neighborhoods.
with your neighbors and getting to know them is
probably the best way to deter a major burglary
in your home, according to Gaddis.
“The best part is
getting in a room with your neighbors,” Gaddis
said. “It is important to understand who belongs.”
Neighborhood Watch focuses
on informing the community how to discourage, deter
and prevent crimes such as the ones that have been
occurring in the area. A resident of the Hillstone
community, which has already implemented the Neighborhood
Watch program, said, “Neighborhood Watch works.
We know all of our neighbors, and we have literally
stopped crimes from happening by knowing and communicating
The police department will
work with the community to put together a Neighborhood
Watch program. Invitations for all the neighbors
are provided, and a person from the Crime Prevention
Unit will lead a two-hour meeting to inform the
community about the program. The officer in charge
of the particular beat block will also attend the
meeting to answer any questions residents may have
and accommodate them to his best ability.
A large concern of the residents
was that there has not been enough police patrol
in the area to deter the crime.
“Basic core patrol
is our number one priority,” Urban said. Urban
informed the residents that every crime needs to
be reported so that the police know where crime
is occurring and can identify trends in order to
catch the burglars.
From hood ornaments being
stolen off vehicles to home burglaries, a report
must be filed in order for the police to know there
is a problem. “We can’t guess what’s
going on in your neighborhood,” Urban said,
“You are our most valuable resource in the
residents feel that burglars are targeting the
There are numerous ways
to report burglary crimes. Calling the police right
away and having them write out a report is what
Urban recommended for major theft and small or minor
burglaries can be submitted online at www.sjpd.org.
Some meeting attendees mentioned
that they don’t report small crimes, but Urban
stressed that every crime must be reported to bring
about a change.
The San Jose Police Department
has eight officers that specialize in investigating
burglaries. Trend analysis is done on all of the
reported crimes, and the adjustment of resources
is done accordingly to what is found. “It
may take them a week to readjust to a trend,”
Cortese said, “but if you don’t report
a crime, they won’t make any adjustments.”
Mail theft, fraud
Attendees at the meeting
also raised the issue of mail theft and fraud, which
is a federal crime. Urban stressed that any outgoing
mail needs to be taken directly to the post office
to avoid mail theft.
A concentrated section of
the Evergreen Hills area has had five burglaries
in the past few months, and residents feel that
the burglaries have been ethnically targeted.
Other concerns revolved
around the demographics of the area. Cortese said
that he felt the burglaries were not due to a demographic
change, “This is the safest big city in the
country, but we also have the lowest number of officers
per capita in such a large city.” The San
Jose Police Department needs to be informed of crimes
so that they can continue to keep local residents
The San Jose Police Department
and Councilmember Dave Cortese want the best for
the community, and are interested in hearing the
opinions of the residents. The effort must first
start with the people of the community, by informing
the police of any crime, small or large.
Starting the Neighborhood
Watch program will get the police more involved
in the community. The community needs to come together
to help make the area a safer place, and the first
step to making a difference is simply getting to
know each other.
To set up a Neighborhood
watch meeting in your community, call the San Jose
Police Department Crime Prevention Unit, (408) 277-4133.
Do you know…
That most residential burglaries
occur during daylight hours?
Most homes are empty during
these hours, while residents are at work, school,
shopping or at different activities.
How burglars can tell at a glance
which homes are easy targets?
Burglars look for opportunities,
for homes in an empty neighborhood.
Homes that are set back,
less visible and have numerous entries for burglars
to use are seen as opportunistic.
An open garage door or window
is a great opportunity for a burglar.
What to do if you see a suspicious
person on your street?
Take a second look at the
person, watch them and identify what makes them
Call the police and make sure to provide solid details.
What types of personal attacks
can happen to you right in your neighborhood?
The possibilities are many,
but it’s about the opportunities you give
Why personal property that has
been en-graved with a California driver’s
license number is less likely to be stolen?
It makes it identifiable; a driver’s license
number can be traced easily if stolen items are
How to engrave your personal
Engravers can be checked
out from your local library.
Hardware stores sell both diamond tip pencils and
electronic pens that can be used to engrave items.
Engrave numbers in a visible location.
Courtesy of Kim Gaddis of the San
Jose Police Department, Crime Prevention Unit
Neighborhood Watch meeting set
for March 9
The Silver Creek Valley
Community Organization will host a Neighborhood
Watch meeting at James F. Smith School, 2220 Woodbury
Lane, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Learn simple steps
that you can take to deter crime in your neighborhood
if you missed this meeting.