Tuesday Nov 29 2011
Crime on the rise in Folsom
By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
Thefts are on the rise over the past year, according to Folsom Police Department records. According to Folsom Police Sgt. Jason Browning, year-over-year statistics show a rise in property thefts. “Between Aug. 1 and Nov. 1, the police department received 57 more reports of theft than the same period last year,” Browning said. “One of the significant reasons for this increase is the region-wide trend of copper thefts, which Folsom hasn’t been immune to.” According to Browning, city facilities have seen the largest increase in victimization. “The Streets and Park and Recreation departments have experienced the brunt of these copper and scrap metal thieves,” Browning said. “Recently, the city offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of the people responsible for these thefts.” In addition to the city facilities, construction sites, businesses and even homes have been targeted. “The results of these thefts are catastrophic to the victims,” Browning said. “The City of Folsom alone has lost over $100,000 from these thefts, which then affects their ability to provide services, and more specifically, lighting, to all the active Folsom community members.” Catalytic converter thieves haven been hard at work, Browning said. “Our community sees these thefts occasionally, and usually sees multiple victims over one night,” he said. “These suspects hit one area real hard, and then move onto the next community to victimize. Some ideas as to reducing your vulnerability is to park targeted vehicles (Toyota trucks, Toyota 4-Runners and Toyota SUVs) inside a garage at night.” Browning suggested residents who don’t have a garage, can install motion activated lighting to cover the driveway. He said it makes a night theft more difficult. “There are ways to add reinforcement to your catalytic converter to make it more difficult to remove, but in at least one case in Folsom, the victim suffered more damage to his vehicle than the value of the device,” Browning said. ”Etching is also offered by some car repair businesses in town, but the etching will only alert law enforcement and/or the salvage company as to the original owner of the device.” Eileen May, Folsom resident for 30 years, had her vehicle’s catalytic converter stolen this year. “We were on vacation and came home to find a big expense,” she said. “We found nuts and bolts under the car, which was less expensive for us because they unbolted it rather than cutting it with a saw.” May said the theft cost her about $350 in expenses. “When we replaced the converter we chose to have it welded on this time to help make it harder for people to steal it again,” May said. “If it happens again, we will probably hear the noise of the saw with it welded on.” Browning said this is also the season for car burglaries. “Residents are their own worst enemies this time of year,” Browning said. “Never leave valuables in your car. If you must leave something of value behind, secure it in the trunk before you get to where you are going.” He said police have noticed that vehicle burglars are more sophisticated now than ever before. “Vehicle burglars will watch a parking lot, watch you hide your purse under the seat and head into the gym, then smash your window and take it,” Browning said. “Vehicle burglaries are often organized theft events. Don’t leave valuables in your car or anything interesting in plain view.” Browning said in the past couple of weeks, officers have also seen a small rise in residential burglaries, which is common during the holidays. He suggests residents take advantage of the Citizen’s Assisting Public Safety (CAPS) volunteer vacation checks to help keep their home safe. “This service is available for register at the Folsom Police Department,” he said. “Just like with your car, keep doors and windows locked. Don’t leave blinds or curtains open to the street whereas suspects can look in and see no one is home. Also, permits are required for door-to-door sales in Folsom, so any solicitors should have a permit ready for inspection by potential customers. If someone comes to your door without a permit, or is acting suspiciously, then report it to the Folsom Police Department’s non-emergency number immediately.” He said in general, the best way to keep neighborhoods safe during the holiday season is to watch out for your neighbor. “With the holidays upon us, our online package orders are subject to theft when left on our porches,” Browning said. “Make arrangements for these deliveries with a neighbor.” Folsom resident Scott Spiegelman was so angered by recent catalytic converter thefts in his neighborhood; he decided to start a neighborhood watch program. “We have started an informal neighborhood watch together between multiple neighborhoods within the historic district,” Spiegelman said. “We need to pay attention to our surroundings.” Browning said it is important to call officers for any suspicious behavior. “The police love to check on suspicious vehicles and persons, so call us if you see something,” Browning said. “We would rather prevent crime than report it.” If you have been a theft victim or have any questions, contact the Folsom Police Department at (916) 355-7230.