Protect your property — this season and always

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Protect your property  — this season and alwaysPictured: Officer Santiago Estrada leaves safety tips for a home owner during one of Ridgecrest Police Department’s neighborhood canvasing events to raise awareness. — Photo by Laura Austin


Between the financial pressure of the holidays, and the historical abundance of soft targets, the National Crime Victimization Survey reports a seasonal uptick in property crimes observed annually between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Capt. Ryan Marrone of the Ridgecrest Police Department says this trend has also been observed in Ridgecrest. In addition to federal drivers, changes in California legislation have created an environment that has yielded a proliferation of addiction-related crimes and a reduction of jail time which historically went with convictions related to those crimes.

“It’s unfortunately a little more inviting to the criminal element when you have the opportunity without the consequences,” said Marrone.

Previously reported statistics indicate that more than two-thirds of property crimes are either committed by people under the influence of an illegal substance or motivated by fueling an addiction.

Not only have reduced sentencing guidelines limited incarceration for theft, but they have also robbed many addicts of a traditional pathway for getting help with their addictions.

Marrone acknowledged that RPD has increased its public education and awareness campaigns in an attempt to partner with the community about the heightened risks and ways to prevent victimization.

“Although our hands have been somewhat tied with the new laws, we still pride ourselves in aggressively solving crimes — especially the serious ones – and that has gone a long way toward mitigating the negative impact,” said Marrone.

While crime stats have spiked in some areas since legislative changes began rolling out in 2009, the local impact has been much milder than those experienced state- and countywide during that same time frame.

Still RPD recommended that the community remain alert in order to reduce the opportunity for theft.

He cautioned shoppers from leaving purses and bags unattended. Wallets and phones should be secured out of sight.

“Another problem we have is what I call ‘parking-lot pirates,’” he said. “When you go out to different stores and leave your previous packages out in view, the parking-lot pirates can break into your vehicle and steal these, even if you lock your doors. So if you care about your gifts, make sure they are properly secured.”

Unfortunately, he said, the same holds true for homes. “If you are away from home, and you leave your curtains open so that people can see what you have under your tree, there are thieves who will go ‘shopping’ whatever way they can.”

These risk extends to after the holidays, when boxes for televisions, gaming consoles and other big-ticket items are left out for trash pick-up. “You don’t want to advertise what you have inside your home, so be careful how you discard things. You don’t want to unintentionally invite the criminal element into your home.”

Security and surveillance systems help not only in deterring these crimes, he said, but also in many cases can also help solve those crimes after the fact.

“Be e careful at ATMs and fuel pumps. If you can, keep cash separately so that if someone takes your wallet, you don’t lose everything,” said Marrone.

“And of course, in all the hustle and bustle, don’t forget about keeping your kids safe.”

Story First Published: 2017-12-22