In a presentation last week to the Wellington Village Council, Capt. Jay Hart, commander of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office District 8 substation, stressed a significant drop in property crime in the community over the past year.
Hart attributed the 13.2 percent drop in property crime complaints to a consistent focus on the issue, including detectives who work to track down stolen goods and a concerted effort to keep an eye on juveniles who have been in trouble with the law. This drop was accompanied by an 18.9 percent drop in residential burglaries.
As a result, there were 630 property crimes reported in Wellington last year, compared with 713 in 2013. While that is certainly great news, it’s not comforting if you happen to be one of the 630 victims.
Nevertheless, these crimes tend to be crimes of opportunity. A locked vehicle and a secured home greatly diminish the likelihood of you being a property crime victim. Unfortunately, too often residents aren’t doing enough to protect themselves. Each week, we comb through dozens of crime reports, and theft from unlocked vehicles is a perpetual theme.
The relative safety of our communities lull us into a false sense of security. Many residents feel comfortable leaving doors to vehicles and homes unlocked, and valuable items on display in their cars. This is a waiting invitation for criminals on the lookout for crimes of opportunity.
The PBSO continues to remind residents to “Lock It Or Lose It,” particularly when it comes to their vehicles. Do not leave valuables such as GPS units, laptops, cell phones and purses/wallets in plain view; do not leave windows open and/or doors unlocked; do not leave keys or garage door openers inside the vehicle; do not leave out items with personal information; and do not move valuable items to the trunk while in public view.
Politicians love to wax nostalgic of a time when we could all leave our front doors and car doors unlocked. Take it from us, people may have done it way back when, but it wasn’t safe, nor was it a great idea even in the “good old days.” While it’s great to see the PBSO cracking down on this important quality-of-life issue, it’s also up to us, the residents, to do our part.