The fact that residential burglaries are a concern to homeowners and law enforcement entities nationally goes without saying. Harker Heights is no exception.
Very few crimes invoke the emotional turmoil more than the burglary of one’s home. Knowing that a stranger has invaded one’s private sanctuary and rifled through one’s personal possessions causes a litany of emotions ranging from anger to fear.
Add to that the financial losses that may be incurred as a result of being burglarized and it amounts to a devastating crime.
Available law enforcement records reflect that more than 200 burglaries occur in Harker Heights annually, most of which are residential burglaries. While this number is considerably lower than many other Central Texas cities per capita, it still represents a worrisome statistic. Even one burglary is troubling if you happen to be the victim.
As the wheels of justice are said to turn slowly, federal government crime statistics reporting maintains that pace as well. In fairness to the FBI, they have the responsibility to compile crime statistics for every city, town and county entity in the nation, based on the Uniform Crime Reports submitted monthly by every law enforcement agency.
Compiling, categorizing and reporting that massive quantity of data is a huge labor undertaking and requires vast amounts of time.
For this reason, national crime statistics are released by the FBI only every five years. Therefore, the latest crime statistics available reflect the numbers from 2010. New figures will be released later this year. The latest figures show 226 burglaries in Harker Heights.
Reducing the number of burglaries in Harker Heights is everyone’s business, not only that of the police department. Vigilance is the key word. Watching out for one another and keeping an eye on the neighbor’s property is a key. Reporting suspicious persons and behavior is yet another.
The Harker Heights Police Department, like most law enforcement agencies has a program in place to make periodic visual and/or physical checks of residences during the temporary absence of the residents. It is known as the house watch program.
This program is not designed to accommodate prolonged absences. For example, homeowners who vacate their homes for a change of station, regardless of whether they intend to return at a future date, are not eligible for this service.
In these cases, a private security company may be employed to make periodic if not regular security checks.
How the program works
Upon the temporary absence of persons from the city due to work requirements or vacation, the police department offers periodic visual and physical checks of the resident’s home as time and manpower constraints allow.
Harker Heights has a Citizen’s Volunteer Patrol (CVP) program. The CVP units will make physical inspections for the police department during daylight hours and police patrol officers will conduct nighttime checks of the residence.
CVP units will also make a visual check of the residence as they drive around the city during the hours of darkness. If these CVP units observe any suspicious activities, they will report those activities to patrol officers to investigate.
All residents of the city may place their residence on the house watch list by visiting the City of Harker Heights website and selecting the House Watch sub-menu link.
Once there, the requester may select the House Watch Form listed in Step 1 and complete the form after it appears. Print the form and physically take the form to the police department.
Those residents who have no Internet access or computer abilities may still be placed on the house watch list by visiting the police department and physically completing the form.
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.