Police: Remain vigilant

By Thomas Garcia PNT Staff Writer

In the wake of a string of armed home invasions, local law enforcement agencies are encouraging residents to take preventive steps when it comes to their home’s security.

“We want to ensure the safety and security of our citizens,” Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said.

Berry said, that there are now increased patrols at night and officers are making contact with individuals out after midnight.

“Officers are patrolling the neighborhoods looking for suspicious activity,” Berry said. “We encourage the public to call and report anything that seems out of the ordinary.”

Vigilance is the key to home security, being aware of your surroundings is essential, said Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker.

While the patrols will help deter burglars there is a lot that the homeowner can do to improve and ensure the security of their homes, Berry said.
“First of all make sure that you have good door locks — and use them,” Berry said. “I recommend using or installing a deadbolt lock.”

Sometimes a criminal will give up if they have to work to get inside of the residence, Berry said.

“A deadbolt lock could keep the burglar out or give you additional time to call 911,” Berry said. “Good lighting around the house is another way to protect your home. Eliminating areas that a burglar could hide or remain out of the public’s sight helps.”

A member of the Portales Police Department will go to a resident’s home to conduct a security assessment on request, Berry said.
“I will do my best to get an officer out to their residence to check their home,” Berry said.

Berry said that a resident can call and ask for him through central dispatch between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Security assessments are also available from the Roosevelt County Sheriff, Hooker said.

“We will come out and check the residences in Roosevelt County,” Hooker said. “We will look at everything from lighting to locks and windows.”
Another way to protect your home is to be cautious of door to door salesmen, Berry said.

“The salesman should have a license or permit from the city to be selling door to door,” Berry said. “They should have no problem with police checking them out.”

Letting someone into your home gives them a chance to see what type of valuables you have, what security you have, determine the layout of your house and see if you live alone, Berry said.

Berry said, that there is enough evidence to link some of the suspects that were arrested Tuesday in Clovis to the two home invasions in Portales.

“Even though the suspects are in custody residents should still be vigilant,” Berry said.

There is always the possibility of people that were involved still being at large and someone committing a copy cat crime, Berry said.
Residents should not hesitate to call the police department for suspicious activity, Berry said.

“That is what we are here for,” Berry said. “Report any suspicious activity that you might see. If you notice someone in your neighborhood that is usually not there call it in.”

The following tips can help senior citizens, as well as anyone, play it safe at home:

• Be alert.
• Do not give out information about yourself or your household to strangers.

If your home needs repair work, use repair people you know or get
references from family and friends. Do not let a complete stranger do
the work.
• Do not let strangers have access to your home, under any circumstances.
• When repair work is being done, try to have family or friends present.
• Report suspicious people in the neighborhood who are asking suspicious questions.
• Report door-to-door salespeople to police. In New Mexico, they must have a license to do this.
• Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked.
• The minute you hear anything unusual, call police.
• There are some pretty good alarm systems on the market that will notify police.
• Make sure you use quality devices and make sure they are functioning properly.

Make your home hard for burglars to enter. Most burglars do not want to
work hard to gain entrance. They will move on to an easier target.
• Motion detector lights are ideal. They also alert neighbors to unusual activity at unusual hours.

Be aware of people offering to do lawn work and only use known sources.
This is a good opportunity for would-be-burglars to spy out your home
windows and doors.
• Nosy neighbors are good neighbors. Get to know
them. They know what’s going on in the neighborhood and can easily spot
anything out-of-the-ordinary. They can help protect your home and even
your children.
• Form a Neighborhood Watch.
• Take a few minutes to document family heirlooms (this helped identify stolen property in the Vickers case).
• Light is a burglar’s worst enemy. Lighten up any dark spots in your front or back yard.

Some reports from crime institutes suggest having dogs can help provide
further home security (get advice concerning senior citizens and dogs
beforehand, though).
• Keep doors and windows locked during the daytime as well.
• Always be aware of your circumstances and surroundings.
Source: Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry