Evergreen Desi Community News

Evergreen Times
        The Community Newspaper of Evergreen Valley / Silvercreek Valley  since 1982


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.

Statistics: 2003 2004
Residential burglaries 30 35
Commercial burglaries 19 10
Vehicle Tampering 45 45
Auto burglaries 41 45

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 office.

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 appear.

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.

Neighborhood Watch
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.

Gathering together 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 with them.”

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.

Resident concerns
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 community.”

Many Evergreen residents feel that burglars are targeting the Indian community.

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 safe.

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 suspicious.

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 them.

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 found.

How to engrave your personal items?
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.

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