Spokane County Sheriff's Crime & Safety Tips – May 24

Spokane County Sheriff’s Crime & Safety Tips

Deter Thiefs
By Deputy David Morris

Something that really bothers me is theft. When people steal from other people, or businesses, or anyone else, it really gets under my skin! We should be able to set something down and walk away, and it should be there when we come back for it! Unfortunately, many people think it is perfectly acceptable to steal other people’s property. They justify it in their mind by saying things like, “If they really wanted it, they wouldn’t leave it where I can get it,” or “insurance will replace it anyway.” My blood is starting to boil just thinking about this!

If you want to keep your property, tools, toys, valuables, electronics, etc. and not have them stolen, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of that happening. The number one thing: LOCKS. Your car has them. Your house has them. Your garage has them. You can buy them for items like bicycles and trailers. Good quality locks can be expensive, but they generally protect your property better than cheap locks. Simply taking the time to lock your things up will save you a lot of trouble.  

When it comes to cars, unfortunately windows are easy to break! It is sad to say, but cars get broken into every day and night in Spokane, Spokane Valley and all of Spokane County. If your car is locked and there are no valuables in sight, thieves will usually leave the car alone and not break the windows. If they see something valuable inside, they will often smash the window to get it. This goes especially for bags, backpacks, briefcases, luggage, diaper bags etc. Even if it’s empty, don’t leave those items in your car when it is unattended — even in your driveway or parked in front of your house.

The next MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do is record your serial numbers! Many valuables these days come with serial numbers, particularly bicycles. Please record your serial numbers and if the item is stolen make a police report by calling Crime Check at 509-456-2233. Give us the serial number of your item and it will astronomically increase our odds of returning the item to you! The easiest way for most people to do this is take a picture of the item and take a picture of the serial number. Then email both pictures to yourself. Your email should be private, just for you, and it is available from any device that can get online.  When you email it to yourself, it is saved on a server somewhere, and you can retrieve it from any computer, tablet, laptop or internet capable phone.

For items that don’t have serial numbers, you can engrave your driver’s license number onto many of those items. Use an engraver and use this format “State code/ driver’s license number/ DL”. For example, “WA/ SMITHJR05J71/ D.L.”.  This tells any law enforcement officer that SMITHJR05J71 is a driver’s license number from Washington State. If you  don’t have a driver’s license, but you do have a state identification card, use the letters “I.D.” at the end instead of D.L. DO NOT USE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER!

If you have items that you can’t engrave, such as jewelry, or fine china, instead take a photo of the item. In the frame of the photo, next to the item, include a ruler to show the size of the item, and also include your driver’s license or state issued ID card. Then save these photos in a secure location, like in your personal email account. That way you have proof that you own the item and it can help you get the items back.

Many times stolen items end up in pawn shops. In our local area, pawn shops are required to report every single purchase using an online database for law enforcement. They are required to enter any serial numbers from items that they take in. If your items were reported stolen and you gave us the serial numbers of the items, then in the following weeks after the theft, we can check your serial numbers against the pawned items database. That has led us to successfully returning stolen property to the rightful owner on many occasions.

Finally consider starting a Neighborhood Watch on the block where you live. It is easy to do and the essence of Neighborhood Watch is this:  1. Lock your items, 2. Be alert, Report crime and suspicious activity to law enforcement, and  3. Talk to your neighbors! If you want more information about starting a Neighborhood Watch, please call me at 509-477-6044 or call Venus Delcambre-Morris at 509-477-3055. Either one of us will help you!

That is all for now. Please go out and enjoy the warmer weather. While you are out having fun, be watchful of your surroundings. If you see suspicious activity call 911 or Crime Check at 509-456-2233. In fact, just about any time you need help from law enforcement anywhere in Spokane or Spokane County you should start by calling Crime Check at 509-456-2233. Feel free to reach out to me for more information at dwmorris@spokanesheriff.org. Thank you!