The Harker Heights Police Department is not only reactive to crimes committed in its jurisdiction, but proactive as well. That is to say that the department has policies in place that address crime prevention as well as policies that address the investigation of crime and the apprehension of perpetrators.

In a city as diverse as ours, this is no easy task.

Police patrols offer a substantial deterrence to the commission of crime and the patrol officers often apprehend criminals in the act of criminal activity.

Despite of the best efforts of Heights police, criminals still persist and crime continues to occur.

In the past two weeks, five burglaries were reported to police, three of which were burglaries of residences. These burglaries were not localized, but occurred in various areas of the city.

Residential burglaries can be devastating to the victims, not only as a result of the loss of property, but because of the emotional damage as well. Victims often feel violated in the knowledge their personal belongings have been rifled through by criminals who surreptitiously entered their homes.

Texas statutes agree with the “home is a person’s castle” doctrine and legislators have ensured that residential burglaries rise to the level of felonies, regardless of the value of items stolen.

This is as it should be.

In addition to the reported residential burglaries, a burglary of a building and a burglary of a vehicle were also reported. These crimes put burglaries in all categories on an upward trend.

These crimes typically increase exponentially during the summer months for a number of reasons. Foremost of the list of reasons is that vacationing residents leave homes and storage buildings unattended for extended periods of time, making their homes vulnerable to thieves.

Prior to vacationing, many residents fail to take adequate precautions to avoid, or at least lessen, their chances of being victimized.

It is age-worn advice, but still pertinent. Before going on vacation, stop newspaper and mail deliveries, or ask a trusted neighbor to gather these items on a daily basis. Nothing says “vacant” like an accumulation of newspapers in the driveway or a stuffed mailbox plainly visible at the curb.

Automated lighting, both interior and exterior, are usually effective deterrents to criminals seeking a target residence.

Not all lighting is a good avoidance strategy, however. Do not leave the porch light on around the clock. Thieves casing the neighborhood for potential targets often do so during daylight hours.

Who leaves their porch light on during the day, unless they are away from home?

While police patrols often stop or deter crimes of this nature, there is no substitute for vigilant and involved neighbors. Neighborhood watch programs appear to be passé today, having waned or discontinued altogether.

Have we become apathetic to the plight of others?

I hope not. Give me a nosy neighbor anytime.

An aggravated assault with a firearm was reported to police as a drive-by shooting. As long as there are humans, there will be human confrontations. Fortunately, crimes such as this one are uncommon in this city, and those that occur are usually brought to a successful conclusion through law enforcement efforts.

An arrest for the possession of marijuana was accomplished by observant police this week. These arrests are frequently made during traffic stops.

Illegal substance arrests have become commonplace, not only in Harker Heights particularly, but in Central Texas in general. Central Texas law enforcement and prosecutors have made a huge dent in illegal substance crime, but there is much more work to be done.

An involved citizenry can have a measurable positive effect in the reduction of dope crimes.

An aggravated robbery was also reported to police this period. Crimes such as this have no place in our city.

A forgery also was reported to police. Forgery is a broad crime, which can be applied to numerous criminal acts from fraudulent check passing to the fraudulent submission of an official government form or application. Thankfully, this crime is not prevalent in our city.

A theft of service capped off the crime reports for this period.

I am confidant that the Heights police department is on top of these crimes and that arrests will follow.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement.

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