BY GREG WILLIAMSON Contributing columnist
It is no secret crime is on the rise in the city of Bakersfield. Over the past year I have heard countless stories from numerous individuals, including my own neighbors, who have been the victims of crime, with an emphasis on burglaries of their residences and businesses. While overall Part One Crime is up approximately 20 percent, burglaries are up approximately 15 percent. I am not aware of an area in the city that has been exempt from this type of criminal activity.
Burglary, simply put, is a crime by which the criminal enters a residence or business with the intent to commit a theft or any felony. It is the ultimate invasion of personal space, in the very place we should feel most secure. We should all have a feeling of safety and security in our residences.
The fact of the matter is we do not have the resources to put an officer in every neighborhood on a consistent basis. The Bakersfield Police Department has been diligent in addressing this crime trend, but much work still needs to be done.
In 2012, the Bakersfield Police Department utilized the crime mapping system to determine the neighborhoods with the highest occurrence of residential burglaries and developed a proactive approach in an attempt to take those responsible for the crimes off the streets. Officers conducted 19 special operations last year in 11 districts throughout the city. Those operations resulted in 141 arrests of suspects. These operations are in addition to the exceptional work our officers and detectives do on a daily basis.
Despite these efforts, burglary crimes continue to have a significant impact on our lives in the city. Burglaries are a crime of opportunity. Break-ins, in a majority of burglaries, occur when the resident or business owner is not present. Burglaries generally happen when businesses are closed and when homeowners are away at work or school. Burglars use a variety of methods to enter businesses or residences. Trends we are currently experiencing include: door kicks, window smashes,and entering open garages.
Additionally, the department is experiencing elevated incidents of individuals knocking on the front door of the residence to determine if someone is home and waiting for a period of time. If the knock goes unanswered, these criminals kick in the front door or enter through a side gate to make entry to the side or rear of the residence.
The department will continue its diligent efforts to capture these criminals. There are additional efforts homeowners can utilize to help prevent residential burglaries. A few of these include:
* Keep your doors and windows locked.
* Reinforce doors with deadbolt locks and install secondary locks on windows.
* Lock all side gates and the garage doors.
* Properly set your home alarm when you leave the residence.
* Never ignore suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Call the police.
* Communicate with your neighbors.
* Develop a Neighborhood Watch Program with the assistance of the department.
Neighborhood safety and security is of vital concern to the entire community, not just the police department. We must work together to prevent crime before it happens. Help us by taking the time to properly secure your residence and property while putting criminals at a disadvantage.
For additional information on preventing burglaries, please visit the Crime Prevention and "e-Tip" sections of the Bakersfield Police Department website at www.bakersfieldcity.us/police.
-- Greg Williamson is chief of the Bakersfield Police Department. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.