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Sheriffs Office responds to Arlington Heights burglaries
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS Snohomish County Sheriffs Office members met Dec. 5 with Arlington Heights citizens to discuss their concerns about recent burglaries in the area.
Deputy Mike Mauser, Sgt. Phil Nichols and Chief Tom Greene noted that the number of burglaries was down from this time last year, but emphasized that they nonetheless regarded it as an important issue, especially since the residents relative remoteness from their neighbors can make their homes more enticing targets for would-be thieves.
Mauser acknowledged the limited resources of the Sheriffs Office to respond to burglaries, since the North Precinct currently has approximately three to four detectives set aside to investigate property crimes, but Greene credited Snohomish County Councilman John Koster with helping to reserve room for two more property crimes detectives in their budget. Still, when those cases lack sufficient evidence and time to be investigated further, Greene admitted that cases with workable information would take priority.
Greene reassured attendees that law enforcements presence in the area had not diminished, asserting that we try to be proactive, but were often forced into a reactive role, so if youre seeing enough police cars responding to calls out here to notice our presence, thats not necessarily a good indicator. He went on to advise locals that their houses are more likely to be broken into during the day, because burglars are lazy cowards.
When questioned about alarm systems, Greene noted that the decision to buy one is up to each homeowner, but if they do purchase such a system, his preference would be for a silent alarm, since audible alarms tend to draw attention to your house and scare burglars away, but silent alarms help us catch them. Still, its your choice. Nichols similarly recommended that, if a homeowner does choose to purchase an alarm system, dont one cheap, because when we keep hearing false alarms from the same residence, its like the boy who cried wolf.
Greene clarified that, if you see somebody knocking on the front door of a house, and then going around to the back if nobody answers, thats a burglary, and may be reported as such to the police. Although he reminded attendees that theyre not allowed to trespass on private property, he wholeheartedly approved of their use of still and video cameras in public areas, since we cant always be there, so we need witnesses.
Greene responded to questions about methamphetamines, especially as they contribute to property crimes, by informing residents that meth labs are increasingly being pushed out of America and down into Mexico, but that meth usage remains a big problem all over the county. He explained that law enforcement requires concrete information to take action against meth houses, but elaborated that absentee landlords, who are often the owners of the apartments that meth dealers and addicts rent, are ill-inclined to give police any reason to seize their property.
Greene warned residents against attempting to detain trespassers and burglars physically, since homeowners are allowed to use deadly force to protect their own lives, as well as the lives of their families, friends and neighbors, but not to protect their property, since you have to play by the same rules as we do. He confessed that he shared the homeowners frustrations on that score, given that we love to put felons in jail, but even when suspects are successfully apprehended, the limits of the legal system can result in plea bargains, if only because, if every case went to court, the system would shut down.
When one local suggested that law enforcement set up a choke point for fleeing vehicles on Highway 530, since three out of the four access points for Arlington Heights converge on that road, Greene and Mauser pointed out that such a strategy has already been implemented, albeit one limited by the availability of patrol cars at any given time. Nichols followed by addressing the number of access points in residents homes, encouraging them to go as far as putting a lock on every door in your house, to slow down, and perhaps even discourage, would-be thieves.
Ask yourself, how would you break into your own home? Nichols told the attendees. If you can figure that out, so can a burglar.
Among the other additional layers of security brought up by Nichols at the meeting were bright external lights, phone trees of contact information for each local resident to have for all of his neighbors in the area, and computer programs to map out homeowners property within their houses to better identify them in case of theft or damage. He also proposed placing their drivers license numbers on their valuables, to track them if and when they were pawned for money by thieves.