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Deterring Crime in South Dade

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Posted: Friday, August 25, 2017 12:15 am | Updated: 12:45 pm, Fri Sep 1, 2017.

After a violent home invasion in the Redland, neighbors are joining together to protect their homes and families by forming Citizens’ Crime Watches.  Imagine taking a late afternoon nap in your favorite chair only to be awakened at gunpoint.  This is precisely what happened a few months ago in the Redlands.  For over an hour, the victim remained twist tied to a chair while two thugs ransacked her home.

  The next day I received a call from the victim's cousin, a friend of mine, who lives minutes from the home invasion.  The conversation centered around what could be done to lessen the chances of another home invasion or burglary in the area.  I suggested perhaps a Crime Watch needed to be started but, “Who You Gonna Call.” 

   The answer was clear to both of us - Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.  After contacting her office, my friend had his answer, the direct number to Crime Stoppers.

   After discussing protocol with Carmen Caldwell and Rebecca Rivera, at the Citizens Crime Watch, a plan was set in action. 

   First duty is to define “your block” or area from stop sign to stop sign. The second step is to make a list and contact everyone in that area.  There must be a minimum of 40% participation and attendance at meetings to proceed.  An initial meeting is generally set up with Rivera and Officer Gasper Hechavarria who is assigned to the South District Resource Unit.  Don’t be surprised if Commissioner Levine-Cava also attends explaining what is being done by the county to fight crime.

   After introductions, Rivera educates all in attendance starting with Crime Watch Signs that are to be posted directly on the back of stop signs at the beginning and end of each “block.”  Since the height of stop signs is strictly regulated above mirror height on trucks, sign placement must follow code.  The signs not only warn criminals of possible detection but serve to remind residents to be on the lookout for unwanted riff-raff in the neighborhood.  It’s ironic that Rivera suggested that the crime watch area place contact information on the back of each sign in case they are stolen and recovered.

   The success of this program centers on getting to know your neighbors so you can assist one another.  A “Block Leader or Captain” makes sure all those involved in the designated area are introduced to each other while collecting their contact information, which is shared by all.  This is done on a Phone Chain Form.  It is amazing how this develops new friendships and a closeness among neighbors.  Not only does it increase safety, but it helps when you need other assistance, such as  feeding each other’s pets when you go out of town.

     Several other facts were shared:  1) Most folks do not have contact information of their neighbors therefore help must come from outside sources.  2) Crime increased in the summer months when school is out.  3) Crime Watch Areas see a reduction in crime of about 30%.  4) Many crimes go unreported.

     What can you do to minimize crime in your area?  On a personal level, make sure all locks on windows and doors function properly.  Secure sliding doors.  Keep exterior and entryways well lit.  Avoid heavy foliage near gate and door entries.  Place valuables in a safety deposit box at a bank.  Put away ladders, tools and machinery that can be used to break into your home.  Never allow anyone unknown to enter your home.  This includes delivery personal and uncalled repair personal even if they are in uniform and possess a badge.

     On a broader level, know your neighbors.  Share information on work hours and vacation time.  Do not let newspapers or mail accumulate if traveling, get a neighbor of friend to pick them up.  Watch for suspicious activities, unknown persons or vehicles.  For your safety do not confront suspicious activities…call the police.  If you witness a crime in progress in the agricultural community, call the police first, the Ag Patrol second and then your neighbors.

   Make sure you report all crimes in your area.  Hiring of policemen and patrol of areas is based on need.  A crime unreported cannot be figured in that equation! Remember there is help out there for crime protection if you seek it.  Also available is information on sexual predators (familywatchdog.com).  Have a problem with an abandoned facility, squatters or multi family unit violations, call Cassandra Hudson at (786) 315-2304.

    As for the victim in the Redlands, she is making a slow recovery.  It is easier to overcome the loss of possessions then the trauma suffered by a home invasion.

    Interested in starting a Crime Watch in your neighborhood?  Contact Carmen Caldwell or Rebecca Rivera at (305) 470-1670 or www.citizenscrimewatch.org .

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