Mike's Takeaways on Betton Hills Home Crime Prevention

Officer Eric Hansen from the TPD Community Relations Unit presented on common home crime prevention tips, Betton Hills crime statistics, and setting up a neighborhood watch program on May 11, 2017.  Here are my takeaways from the presentation.  In some places I've inserted my own perspective along with Officer Hansen's.

Top Crime Prevention Tips:

  • The best crime deterrent is getting to know your neighbors and getting them to call you and/or the police if they see something out of the ordinary at your house or car. 
  • If you see someone acting in a suspicious manner, call the police.  Better to be safe than sorry.  The non-emergency number to call is:606-5800.  Program that number into your cell phone.  You can request that the responding officer call you or to come by your house to report on his/her response to your call.  You don’t need to intervene, but if you can get a license plate number, that’s great.
  • Be alert, but not overzealous.  We have many people unfamiliar with Betton HIlls that come here to visit or do work at someone's house.  It's natural they may be driving slowly, checking for street names or house numbers. 
  • Dogs, even small yappers, are a great crime deterrent.  Their barking attracts attention.  Thieves don’t like attention.  Cats weren't evaluated.
  • Auto burglaries are the most common home crime.  They tend to happen at night.  Make it a habit to take your valuables out of your car and lock it at night.  Having a light shining on your car at night can help prevent a break-in.  However, most break-ins occur in the early morning hours when people are asleep.  Auto burglaries tend to go up as school lets out for the summer.
  • Carports are an easy target.  Try to keep valuable items such as tools, yard equipment, bikes, etc. off the carport or locked to something secure.
  • Lights on around the border of your house may deter crime.  However, the vast majority of home break-ins occur during the day when no one is home.
  • In-home security systems can be effective, especially with video and a loud in-home and outside noise/announcement function.  Many thieves know to wear masks, though, and that they have about 10 minutes from break-in to police showing up.  Thieves target their searches to get what they can in that timeframe.  Good neighbors can really help in this situation by getting information about the people who entered the house and/or car type, license number, etc.
  • Get a safe deposit box at a bank or have a secure safe for jewelry, valuable coins, important papers, etc.  Keep silverware in non-traditional places to thwart the 10 minute search and grab strategy.
  • You can arrange for a free residential security survey by a police officer.  Contact Officer Eric Hansen at 891-4861 or Eric.Hansen@talgov.com.
  • See the TPD brochure of Vacation Safety Tips for Protecting Your Home (coming soon).

Betton Hills Crime Statistics

Betton Hills is a low crime neighborhood, subject to periodic upswings particularly in car break-ins.  More rarely, there is a home break-in or something stolen from a carport, typically during the day when no one is home.

To check on recent crime activity in Betton Hills, visit the TPD’s online crime statistics website:  http://www.talgov.com/gis/tops.

Directions for how to use the website, are on the Betton Hills website:  (coming soon).

Strengthening Betton Hills Home Crime Prevention

The BHNA seeks a volunteer or a small number of volunteers to take the lead in setting up a more rigorous home crime prevention program  for Betton Hills.  If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Mike Brezin, BHNA Chair, at mbrezin@comcast.net or 386-6767.  The BHNA can provide various financial and communication supports for the effort.

One strategy for home crime prevention is the City of Tallahassee's Crimewatch.  The crimewatch program reinforces the sense of belonging to a neighborhood.  You get to know your neighbors and realize you can depend on them to be eyes and ears for you when you are not at home.

A neighborhood crimewatch can be an effective crime deterrent when it operates as designed.  Primarily that means:  get to know your neighbors, be willing to watch each other’s homes, and, if something suspicious is occurring at a home, call the homeowner, the designated crimewatch block captain, and police.

The reason to call the block captain (whose territory may be bigger than a neighborhood block) is that that person can keep tabs of the types of calls, their frequency, time of day, and location.  That information can then be communicated to the police and they can adjust their patrols or bring in more resources, as appropriate.

To set up a crimewatch program, the neighborhood or a section of the neighborhood determines how many block captains are needed, their territories, and who they are.  The block captains then solicit neighbors in their territories to join the crimewatch effort and teach them how to do that.  Assistance can be provided by a police officer from the Community Relations Unit.

The crimewatch participants meet at least quarterly for one year to establish the program.  Once established, the TPD will provide neighborhood crimewatch signs.

Ideally, a crimewatch neighborhood helps to set up crimewatch programs in surrounding neighborhoods or, at a minimum, tries to coordinate efforts with surrounding neighborhoods.