03/11/10 — Fremont police chief offers safety advice to local senior citizens

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Fremont police chief offers safety advice to local senior citizens

By Laura Collins
Published in News on March 11, 2010 1:46 PM

Fremont police Chief R.K. Rawlings spoke to a group at the Fremont United Methodist Church Tuesday about safety in the town.

The group, 50 Uppers, is made up of community members over the age of 50.

"A lot of you can remember back in the day when you could leave your doors unlocked and windows open," he said. "I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but those days are about over."

The chief credits the economy, in part, to the rise in crime. When incomes are low or nonexistent, some people look to supplement that by stealing, he said. Most thieves will case an area before they break into a home. Making sure your house has sturdy doors and locks is an easy way to deter crime.

"One of the best tips is being neighborly," Rawlings said. "You don't have to have an official neighborhood watch program to have a neighborhood watch."

He suggests getting to know neighbors and exchanging phone numbers, watching their yard and having them watch yours.

Rawlings estimates it takes a burglar 30 seconds to break into a home and steal items, so leaving doors unlocked while running to the store or down the street is a bad idea.

He also added that criminals know all the traditional extra key hiding spots -- above a door frame, under the mat, under a flower pot -- and suggests leaving one with your neighbor instead.

Deterring crime doesn't have to be expensive. While alarm systems are effective, simply having a sign that says the home is protected also works. Installing motion sensor lights can also ward off would-be burglars.

"People often say that having motion-sensor lights will increase their electric bill, but the lights only turn on if someone is in your yard, which is exactly what you want," he said.

He also suggests not only calling the post office when going out of town, but also the newspaper and the police department.

"We're out patrolling anyway, there's nothing wrong with asking us to keep an eye on your house," he said.

Ebbie Mooring, who heads the 50 Uppers committee, said it's important for the town to stay current on ways they can ward off crime.

"We need to know what to do so we're not victims," she said. "It's good to stay informed."