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Ask the Undersheriff: Burglaries down, car prowls up last year

February 4, 2019

I’ve pulled together some year-end statistics on Skagit County Sheriff’s Office cases to offer perspective of what crimes went up and what went down.

BURGLARIES

Burglaries are a true crime of opportunity. An easy way to gain access to a home is through unlocked doors and windows.

Another is by finding access to an area that is not visible from the street or to your neighbors. Shrubbery, trees and objects that obstruct views help burglars hide if they hear a car or person coming.

A large percentage of burglaries occur during the day when people are working, going to school, running errands, etc.

Ask yourself: If I know my house will be broken into tomorrow by someone going through my back door, what will I do today to prepare for that? Obviously, you would fortify the door. Live in that mindset, and always think of ways to better secure your home.

Burglary cases went down to 361 in 2018 from 401 in 2017. So continue to be vigilant, and make it harder for burglars to take your precious valuables.

VEHICLE PROWLS

While it’s nice to be outside, vehicle prowl thieves track nice weather, as well. When you drive to your favorite trailhead for an afternoon stroll, thieves are watching.

They will be choosy about which car they enter because they don’t want to be heard, seen or caught. They prefer cars that are unlocked, have windows down or have items visible such as wallets, sunglasses or computers.

I always ask this question: If two cars sat side by side and both are locked, but one car has valuables showing and another does not, which would you enter?

The answer seems obvious, but day after day, we take vehicle prowl complaints with this exact scenario.

Don’t let that be your car.

Unfortunately, our vehicle prowl complaints went up in 2018 over the prior year. There were 251 prowls reported in 2018 compared to 183 in 2017.

SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY

All law enforcement agencies strive for crime reduction in their communities. However, there is one call for service that we like to see go up: reports of suspicious activity.

For example, if you generally know who your neighbors are and what cars they drive, you may notice if a strange car is parked in a neighbor’s driveway and someone you don’t know hops over a fence to the backyard. If it seems suspicious, call it in.

A deputy driving through your neighborhood provides a police presence but might not recognize that a car or person doesn’t live in the area.

Suspicious calls dropped slightly over the prior year — 1,828 in 2018 compared to 1,848 in 2017.

We strongly encourage neighborhoods to form a block watch group. Having an email chain or private online group are ways to help connect a neighborhood.

Email me or catch me on the Nextdoor network to help you set up a block watch group and have me come speak at your meetings. Together, we can reduce crime in Skagit County.

Chad Clark is undersheriff for the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. Send questions to askpatrolchief@gmail.com.

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