KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
September 6, 2019
By Natalie Cook Clark
With population on the rise, Katy has seen an increase in crimes, many of which are caught on camera by residents using various home surveillance systems. Local law enforcement agencies are working hard to help reduce these growing crimes by notifying neighborhoods of potential theft rings and capturing thieves on a regular basis. The state of Texas has also stepped up by passing a law calling for stricter penalties for thieves who steal residents' delivered packages, known as porch pirates. Here are some strategies to reduce your risk of being the next victim.
CAR BURGLARY PREVENTION TIPS
Earlier this week, the Fort Bend County Sheriff Office deputies apprehended three suspects in car burglaries in Katy's Silver Ranch subdivision. This crime has occurred in several Katy neighborhoods.
"Crooks talk about 'easy scores' and we don’t want them talking about our city," says Fulshear Police via their official Facebook page.
According to local enforcement, Katy area residents are able to reduce their chances of becoming victims by implementing some of these important safety strategies.
1. Park In Your Garage- If possible, park your vehicle in the garage, out of sight.
2. Remove Personal Belongings - Remove all belongings from the vehicle. Even if clutter isn't of value thieves could think something worth while is under it. Don't give them a reason to want to get into your car.
3. Remove Firearms - Never leave guns or weapons in your vehicle.
4. Remove Spare Keys - Do not leave spare keys in your vehicle.
5. Lock Your Doors - This may seem obvious, but it's very common for law enforcement to get reports of thieves who simply opened the car door and removed valuables.
6. Don't Hide Valuables in the Trunk - Thieves just break the window and will steal what's in the trunk too.
PORCH PIRACY PREVENTION TIPS
Punishment under the new House Bill 37 ranges from six months to 10 years in prison and includes a fine of between $4,000 and $10,000. In addition, charges can be upgraded for cases that include identity theft or disabled or elderly victims. (See story here).
Although thieves don't usually follow delivery trucks closely, they will watch to see what streets they are going down, wait an appropriate amount of time to see if the homeowner is present and then go in for the steal. Constable Ted Heap estimates the window between delivery and theft is very short.
"These crimes are serious and the charges should be appropriately serious too," said Heap. "Our deputies take pride in protecting the residents of our precinct from these thieves who have no right to steal from our homes and businesses."
Constable Heap offers these tips to help protect yourself from porch thieves: 1. Make Sure Someone is Home
Have someone home during the package delivery time. If not, ask the delivery driver to put the package in an inconspicuous place such as behind a plant. Thieves usually do a quick glance at front porches and don't get out to look around the home perimeter.
2. Deliver to a Neighbor
Have the package delivered to a trusted friend or family member who will be home the day of delivery.
3. Ask for Help
Have a trusted neighbor, who is home during the day, collect packages from your doorstep rather than letting them sit outside until you return. Most online retailers offer tracking services, so you can see when your orders are delivered.
4. Deliver to Work
If at work, have the package delivered to your workplace. 5. Deliver to an Apartment Office
If you live in an apartment, have your packages delivered to the front office, where you can pick them up at your convenience.
6. Require a Signature
Request that online retailers require a signature when delivering a package. That will ensure that your deliveries don't sit on your doorstep for hours at a time.
7. Request a Hold
Have UPS and FedEx hold your packages at their facilities until you can pick them up.
8. Use Amazon Lockers
Amazon lockers are popping up in the area with four (4) locations now in Katy. Your package is delivered to the locker to be picked up at your convenience. The customer receives an email when it is delivered. Packages must be picked up within 3 days. 9. Report Theft
If your packages are stolen, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. Ted Heap stated that all thefts should be reported to their office. Many people have cameras so if your home doesn't, chances are other cameras in the neighborhood caught the thief.
Many Katy homeowners have actually captured evidence of porch theft with doorbell camera systems like RING, which captures any motion on the porch or when the doorbell rings. If a package is stolen, the homeowner has a picture and video of the theft.
While a lot of this seems like common sense it's easy to get caught up in our hectic lives and overlook simple things. Taking these steps cannot guarantee but can help to protect your belongings.