Deputy sheriff offers ideas on how to protect oneself from loss of property

With the number of thefts and car break-ins continuing to rise, deputies at the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office would like Boring area residents to take more preventive measures.

Community Service Officer Sara McClurg would like Boring neighborhoods to consider the Neighborhood Watch program. She visited the most recent Citizen Participation Organization meeting to update the nearly 40 residents present and answer their questions about how to protect themselves.

McClurg says it's prudent to be skeptical at all times, unless someone on your property is a friend or family.

'If somebody comes to your door who you don't know,' she said, 'and they are there ostensibly for a legitimate reason, always scrutinize the situation.

'That is a common method for people to get a look inside your house to see if there's something worth coming back later to steal, or to see if no one is in the house so they can safely break in and take things.'

Car break-ins are the most recent trend in Boring-area crime, said McClurg, who offered a couple of ideas to help protect people's cars.

'The bottom line is: If you don't want to lose something,' she said, 'don't leave it in your car.

'Parking in front of one's home is not safe, unfortunately. About 50 percent of the (Boring) car break-ins were unlocked, so you really need to make sure your car is secured. It won't stop someone from smashing a window, but it will deter some activity.'

One of the offenders, who agreed to talk with deputies, told them he is much more attracted to an unlocked car than a locked vehicle. Better yet, McClurg said, put your car in a garage, if one is available.

Of prime importance, according to McClurg, is to leave nothing visible inside the vehicle.

'If (a thief) doesn't see something that's worth taking,' she said, 'most of the time (he or she) will pass the vehicle.'

Items some people don't think of when they leave their car include GPS units, cell phones, wallets and purses. McClurg also suggests not covering something of value with a coat or blanket.

'You want to make sure there's nothing there (inside the vehicle),' she said, 'not spare change, not even sunglasses.

'Usually they don't want to go to the trouble (of breaking in) unless they can see something (through a window).'

One of the items that could be left (by mistake) in a car and cause a great deal of damage when stolen are financial documents.

'Those papers have all of a person's information,' she said, 'including a Social Security number.'

Home invasions (in Boring) are a rare occurrence, McClurg said. But if it occurs, she suggests getting to a safe place and immediately calling 9-1-1.

To help deputies in their investigation and search for possible suspects, McClurg said a homeowner should get a description of the person(s) and the vehicle - especially the license number and state - and direction of travel.

Other ideas McClurg suggested include being consistent in locking the home (doors and windows), using solid-core doors, using deadbolts with a bolt that moves 1.5-inches into the door jam, and having lights on all night (front and back).

Neighborhood Watch, she said, is one of the proven ways to deter crime.

'There's safety in numbers,' she said. 'A group is going to be much stronger than an individual.'

McClurg doesn't suggest forming vigilante groups, but she says it is good to have people checking neighbor's homes - especially if a resident is out of town.

'Being alert to suspicious activity is important,' she said. 'We're not encouraging people to become vigilantes, but just be aware of things that look out of place.'

Potential criminals notice if people in a neighborhood are alert, and especially if a sign is present notifying anyone that an area has a Neighborhood Watch group.

McClurg can provide signs for any neighborhood requesting one, and she will be available to help any neighborhood form a watch group.

For more information, contact McClurg by calling 503-785-5077.

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