Overall crime is down in the Washington region, according to the 2006 COG Report on Crime, issued by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments last week.
Homicides decreased by nearly 12 percent, motor vehicle thefts were down almost 15 percent, and reported rapes decreased by more than seven percent.
The results in Fairfax County, the largest of the jurisdictions reporting, similarly tracked the regional numbers. Part I crimes (an FBI designation for major crimes) in the county decreased by seven percent overall. Beneath the “good news” statistics, the report notes however, there is still evidence of a growing robbery problem throughout the region. Police agencies indicate that current challenges are street and commercial robberies, as well as residential burglaries.
So how can you protect your home or apartment, and yourself, from being a victim of burglary? Here are a few tips from the Fairfax County Police Department’s Crime Prevention Office:
- Lock all your doors (including while you are home).
- Lock all windows and patio doors. One of a burglar’s easiest and favorite entry points is a sliding glass door that someone has forgotten to lock.
- Be sure your valuables are not visible from outside your home. (Ladies, that includes your purses in the front hall!)
- Illuminate your property. Motion sensors are inexpensive and fairly easy to install.
- Keep shrubbery around the house low and trimmed. Tall foundation plantings provide a perfect hiding place for surreptitious activity by burglars.
- Be aware of unfamiliar persons loitering in the neighborhood. Get to know your neighbors. Join your Neighborhood Watch, or start one in your community. In Mason District, you can call the Crime Prevention officers at 703/256-8035 for more information.
- Consider placing your lights and TVs on timers (make sure they cycle off at random hours each evening).
- Consider placing alarm monitoring signs in your windows.
- Have a trusted neighbor check on your house while you are on vacation or extended business trips.
- Make your house look occupied. Have a neighbor park their car in your driveway. Be sure that newspapers and mail are picked up. And this is a good time to try out those timers!
When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to spend several minutes checking
all the doors before he got into the car. His ritual sometimes meant we were late to wherever we were going, but it instilled in our family the need to double-check the house before we left, even for church or a quick errand.
Keeping our community safe is up to all of us, residents and police alike. Why don’t you check your doors and windows right now? Like my grandfather, you will probably find that you remembered to lock up, but why take a chance? Don’t be a victim.