As one drives around Copperas Cove these days, the blue-and-white neighborhood watch signs are no longer as prevalent as they once were. In fact, there are precious few, if any, left.
Perhaps the absence of credible and organized neighborhood watch programs is one of the reasons property crimes have risen in Cove in recent times. I, for one, certainly believe so.
Neighborhood watch is undoubtedly the most well-known, most effective and oldest crime prevention program in our history.
For neighborhood watch programs to be effective, however, both the residents and city administration must be involved as a team. Without the sponsorship of the city, the effectiveness of citizen involvement is considerably reduced.
Recent National Night Out assemblies and block parties throughout Central Texas called attention to the need for citizen involvement in combating local crime. Such involvement is essential to community policing, as the police cannot be everywhere at once. Residents become the eyes and ears of the law enforcement community and willing participants in the fight against crime.
Folks know, or should know, their neighborhoods. We know who lives on our street and what vehicles our neighbors own. Without prying into anyone’s business, we also have a general knowledge of the routine of our neighbors to the extent we know when something appears odd or out of place.
It is at those times we should pay particular attention to what is going on. Perhaps our neighbor needs help for a medical emergency or condition, or police assistance is required.
Neighbors watching out for neighbors is a very effective tool for preventing burglaries and thefts, criminal mischief and crimes against people. This was clearly demonstrated recently in Harker Heights when a neighbor reported the in-progress burglary of a residence to police. The suspects were apprehended with the stolen items.
People interested in initiating a neighborhood watch program should contact the city administration for a contact person or number for assistance. If that fails, national agencies are available and willing to step into the void.
One such agency is the National Neighborhood Watch of the National Sheriff’s Association. This organization has resources available to provide program materials and startup assistance for anyone interested in starting a program in their neighborhood. Go to www.sheriffs.org.
It gets worse each week. Seventeen thefts and burglaries were reported in the seven days beginning Oct. 13. Eighteen thefts were reported considering a fleeing shoplifter from a local business. This number should make every resident of Copperas Cove think about a neighborhood watch program and increased police patrols in neighborhoods.
- Theft of currency was reported Oct. 12 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
- A camera system and currency were reported stolen from a building Oct. 13 in the 300 block of South First Street.
- Burglary of a building and damage by graffiti were reported Oct. 17 in the 300 block of South First Street. The doors, a refrigerator, cameras and food were reported damaged. Damage was estimated at $306. This is the second property crime at this business in the same week.
- A burglary of a residence was reported Oct. 13 in the 1600 block of Hughes Street.
- The theft of currency was reported Oct. 14 in the 1200 block of 19th Street.
- The theft of a vehicle registration sticker was reported Oct. 14 in the 200 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190. This sticker will undoubtedly be placed on an unsafe, uninsured clunker that would otherwise fail inspection. Drivers beware.
- A GPS device was reported stolen Oct. 14 in the 1000 block of Brookview Drive.
- A watch and an iPod were reported stolen from a vehicle Oct. 14 in the 1400 block of Martin Luther king Jr. Drive. Apparently, someone failed to heed my “take it-hide it-lock it” advice. Unfortunately, over 80 percent of vehicle burglary victims make the same costly mistake.
- A theft was reported Oct. 15 at a business in the 2100 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
- Jewelry was reported stolen from a vehicle Oct. 15 in the 200 block of Judy Lane.
- A stethoscope, phone charger and identification card were reported stolen from a vehicle Oct. 15 in the 200 block of Dewald Street.
- A vehicle, valued at $1,000, was reported stolen Oct. 16 in the 300 block of Mesquite Circle.
- An attempted theft was reported Oct. 17 at a retailer in the 3200 block of Big Divide Road.
- A burglary of a habitation and criminal mischief was reported Oct. 17 in the 400 block of Cottonwood Drive. A glass door valued at $200 was damaged.
- The theft of electronics valued at $360 was reported Oct. 17 in the 2800 block of Mountain Avenue.
- A theft was reported Oct. 17 in the 700 block of Sunny Avenue. A skateboard valued at $155 was reported stolen.
- Burglary of a vehicle was reported Oct. 17 in the 700 block of West Avenue E.
Seven assaults were reported to police this week, three of which involved family violence. Experience leads me to believe 50 percent more assaults went unreported.
- A sexual assault was reported Oct. 15. The location is withheld for the privacy of the victim.
- An aggravated assault with a deadly weapon was reported Oct. 12 at the intersection of Erby Avenue and South Drive.
- Assault by contact was reported Oct. 17 in the 700 block of Sunny Avenue.
- An assault by contact/family violence was reported Oct. 11 in the 1200 block of Georgetown Road.
- An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Oct. 15 in the 1100 block of South 27th Street.
- An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported Oct. 17 in the 100 block of Saddle Drive.
- An assault with bodily injury was reported Oct. 15 in the 1200 block of Courtney Lane.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Oct. 11 in the 1700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190. An arrest was made.
- Possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Oct. 11 in the 50 block of Karen Sue Circle. An arrest was made.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Oct. 12 in the 100 block of West Avenue A. An arrest was made.
- Possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia was reported Oct. 15.
- Evading arrest/detention and theft were reported at a retail business in the 2700 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
- False report to a police officer was reported Oct. 11 in the 800 block of Dianna Drive.
- Public lewdness and criminal mischief was reported Oct. 11 in the 1100 block of Golf Course Road.
- Indecent exposure was reported Oct. 16 in the 300 block of East Avenue E.
- Animal confinement in a vehicle was reported Oct. 12 in the 400 block of Williams Street. Shame on this perpetrator.
- Criminal mischief was reported Oct. 12 in the 900 block of Willowbrook Street.
- Criminal mischief was reported Oct. 16 in the 200 block of Robertson Road. Damage to a tire valued at $70 was reported.
- Criminal mischief was reported Oct. 17 in the 500 block of Wild Plum Drive. Damage to a vehicle was estimated at $500.
- Criminal mischief was reported Oct. 17 in the 1000 block of Leonhardt Street. Damage to a vehicle was reported with damage estimated at $500.
- Graffiti was reported Oct. 14 in the 2000 block of Urbantke Lane.
- Fraudulent use/possession of identifying information was reported Oct. 15 in the 400 block of East Avenue B.
John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.