Sunday, November 28, 2021

Security Alert - Two Crime Trends To Guard Against

You need to be aware of two emerging crime trends so you can protect yourself and your family. Make sure everyone knows what to look out for and what steps to take to reduce the chances of falling victim to these crimes.

1) The Follow-Home Robbery - The Epoch Times (one of the last bastions of real journalism) is reporting on the Los Angeles Police Department's efforts to combat the rise of follow-home robberies (article). I also talked to to a police officer friend of mine here in North Carolina earlier today. He confirms that this type of robbery isn't just trending in LA or on the West Coast, but throughout the country.  

In this type of robbery, criminals (typically gang members) are staking out high-end department stores, jewelry stores, electronics stores, restaurants, and night-clubs, then following home wealthy-looking targets in order to rob them, often violently, at their house or apartment (which are typically in up-scale neighborhoods). The criminals are especially targeting women who are by themselves and elderly people, thinking these people make easier prey. 

The criminals' thought process is that customers of these establishments are very likely to be carrying cash, wearing expensive jewelry, and carrying electronics and other expensive gifts that have just bought. 

2) The Package Thief - This crime trend has really risen throughout the pandemic with the large increase in online shopping. Basically, thieves are driving around looking for packages left unattended at mailboxes and on front porches, then quickly snatching them away. Some of the more brazen thieves are actually following behind Amazon, FedEx, and other delivery trucks on their routes. 

Earlier this summer, a package thief was caught in my neighborhood (a small neighborhood about seven miles outside the town limits in a rural county in NC). The thief was a middle-aged white woman driving a new Toyota Corolla. According to the police, she had been stealing dozens of packages in this section of the county for about two weeks before she was finally caught. 

Package thieves tend to be solo acts, rather than part of a gang, and are often known by local police as career petty criminals and/or druggies supporting their habit. However, lockdowns and unemployment during the pandemic seem to have driven some desperate folks who don't fall into those categories into petty crimes as a way to make some money. 

Some Tips for Personal and Home Security
  • Awareness and Acceptance - Know that these crimes are becoming more common, and accept that they can happen even in your neighborhood, regardless of how rural or how upscale it is. 
  • Practice Situational Awareness - Situational awareness is more than just paying attention to what is going on around you, though that is an important start. It means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. I wrote a detailed article on Situational Awareness which you should read. 
  • Always be alert to what is going on around you. Danger can pop up anywhere, quickly and unexpectedly.
  • Don't get so involved with your phone that you ignore your surroundings. Again, always be alert.
  • Shop in groups, and go home in groups if possible. The follow-up robber is targeting people, especially women, who are by themselves. 
  • Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car. Yes, you should be able to wear or drive whatever you want, but the reality is that doing so may make you a target. 
  • Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy-prey - wear practical clothes, practical shoes, and walk confidently, with your head up, looking around..
  • Pay attention as you drive home. Does anyone seem to be following you? 
  • Look before you get out of the car when you get home. Any cars or people you don't know watching you?
  • Make sure your driveway/parking area is well-light at night. 
  • Know that a package is being delivered? Try to be home, or make sure someone else is home, to quickly take the package in. If no one can be there, ask a neighbor or friend to get the package for you. 
  • A security camera may help. Even if you can't afford one, having a security camera sign may help. 
  • A Neighborhood Watch program may help, even if it is an informal one. Retired neighbors, stay-at-home moms, and folks who work from home can keep an eye on the neighborhood safely from their living room windows. Make them aware of the need to pay attention. 
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