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"Crookology 101:" Simple Strategies for Reducing Your Crime Risk, Part 2

Updated February 20, 2015

As mentioned in last month's newsletter, the City of Cerritos finished 2014 with crime in many categories at record lows. Overall, Part I index crimes reported annually to the FBI declined by nearly 16 percent. Perhaps even more encouraging is that violent crimes, especially the types found in many other cities in Los Angeles County, are rare occurrences in Cerritos.

It is important for residents to remember that the typical crimes committed everyday in Cerritos – thefts of personal property – are almost impossible for anyone except potential victims to prevent. Prevention is only possible if residents regularly practice what we like to call "safe living strategies" and take steps to "harden the target."

One might think that advances in technology would improve the ability of police to identify and apprehend criminals. Unfortunately, most property crimes are never solved and most thieves are seldom caught. When determined thieves prey upon neighborhoods such as Cerritos with easily accessible property, only alert and informed residents who routinely practice simple strategies to lower their crime risk can stop them. To continue with last month's theme, here are more prevention strategies based upon the trends and tendencies of thieves who have victimized Cerritos residents in the past.

  • Consider hiding places in your home where small electronics or other valuables are difficult for thieves in a hurry to find. Burglars usually ransack drawers and closets in most rooms, especially bedrooms, unless you have a monitored alarm. A place that can only be reached with a stool or ladder, maybe in the garage, might be a good hiding place.
  • When going on vacation, be sure to stop your newspapers. Nothing shows that no one is home more than a few days of newspapers stacking up on a driveway. If possible, leave a car in your garage, lock valuables such as jewelry and laptop computers in the trunk and hide or take the key with you. Use an automatic timer for a light or two, and maybe a radio, inside your house.
  • Secure side garage doors. Over the past few months, several residential burglars have entered homes by kicking open these doors. Many are hollow-core doors without good dead-bolt locks and are easy to force open.
  • Always shop or walk at night with a friend. Purse snatchings and street robberies are very rare occurrences in Cerritos, and in the last 15 years have occurred maybe once when two people were walking together.
  • When you buy a new television, cut the box up into small pieces that fit into your recycle trash container. Don't advertise your expensive purchase to strangers driving through your neighborhood.
  • Be wary of people who approach you in business parking lots with a story about how they've found money and want to share it with you if you put up some "good faith" cash of your own. These are old fashioned "pigeon drop" scams and they do occasionally occur in Cerritos.
  • With all of the current telephone scams (the "IRS" and "mystery shopper" scams being the most common at the present time), consider screening your calls. Only pick up the telephone when you recognize the number and let your voice mail answer if the number isn't familiar to you. If it's a legitimate call, a message will be left. If it's a telemarketer or a scam artist, they will hang up.
  • Educate your older relatives about their vulnerability to telephone scams. Inform relatives that before they ever respond to demands from "government agents" asking for payment or "relatives" needing financial assistance, that they first call at least one family member to check out the caller's story. If a pre-paid money card is involved, you know it's a scam.

Help make Cerritos a safer city. When You See Something, Say Something, by calling the Cerritos Sheriff's Station at (562) 860-0044.


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