"Crookology 101:" Simple Strategies for Reducing Your Crime Risk
Updated January 23, 2015
There was considerable good news to report on the crime-fighting front in Cerritos as 2014 came to a close. Overall Part I crime (the eight index crimes reported annually to the FBI) declined by approximately 16 percent compared to the previous year. Although violent crime (murder, rape, assaults, robbery) did increase slightly by 1.2 percent, serious crime continued to be reported at historic lows. There were no homicides in 2014 and two rapes were reported during the entire year (both involving individuals in personal relationships). General felony assaults decreased by 11 percent from the previous year, but robbery did increase slightly from 42 in 2013 to 49 this past year. By way of reference, there were 97 robberies reported in Cerritos 10 years ago. The other good news is that residential burglaries also declined substantially this past year, from 228 in 2013 to 183 in 2014.
While it's great to report decreases in crime, we must also keep in mind that Cerritos remains an attractive target for thieves. With two large regional shopping centers, hundreds of retail businesses and countless quiet residential neighborhoods, there is a plentiful supply of potential crime victims and valuable property easily accessible from two major freeways and the 13 off-ramps that exit into the City. With many thefts and narcotics offenses now resulting in citations rather than arrests due to voter-approved Proposition 47 this past November, the good news about crime reduction may not last forever.
Keep in mind that you don't have to be a crime victim. Most of the crimes committed in Cerritos every year involve some type of theft. While our Sheriff's deputies work hard to keep Cerritos neighborhoods safe, the greatest strategy for reducing and preventing crime in our City is an alert and educated group of residents who regularly practice simple safe-living strategies. Most thieves are opportunists who often steal property that can be easily protected if owners would routinely practice simple precautionary measures.
There are many simple ways to lower your crime risk. As we enter a new year, following are some safety tips offered by the Cerritos Community Safety Division staff that can keep you from needlessly becoming a victim.
- Hardly a week goes by in Cerritos when someone doesn't lose a purse or wallet from their parked car while walking or exercising at a local gym or park. Window glass cannot protect your valuables from determined thieves. It is recommended that you only take your driver's license and workout clothes when going to work out. In addition, never leave valuables, especially frequently targeted purses or laptops, in your car when you park at a shopping mall. Vehicle burglary is the most common felony crime in Cerritos and it's easy to avoid being a victim.
- Irreplaceable items such as heirloom jewelry or coin collections should be kept in a bank safety deposit box, not in your bedroom dresser. Home safes in closets protect valuables from fires, but every year a few Cerritos residents lose large, heavy safes when their homes are burglarized.
- Consider installing a burglar alarm. Rarely is a home in Cerritos burglarized that has a monitored alarm system.
- Never purchase a Green Dot or similar money card and provide the personal identification number (PIN) to a "government agent" who has called you and claimed you owe money to the IRS. No government agency at any level calls and demands you purchase a money card to resolve a problem. The same applies to calls from "relatives in distress" who need money for medical or legal problems. These scammers are never caught and your money is never recovered.
- Buying or selling something on Craigslist or similar websites? If so, arrange to meet the buyer or seller in the lobby of the Cerritos Sheriff's Station (or at least the parking lot). This past year several people reported meeting a prospective buyer or seller in a public place and then being robbed of either their item or the money they had brought to make the purchase.
Be alert, be aware and remember, If You See Something, Say Something.