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Sheriff's Corner: Tips for keeping your property safe from would-be thieves

Theft is a crime of opportunity. During the summer months, thieves are always on the lookout for items which can be easily taken in minutes.

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch
Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch
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During the summer months, we usually see an increase in some property crimes, including theft and property damages. Theft is a crime of opportunity. During the summer months, thieves are always on the lookout for items which can be easily taken in minutes. Unlocked doors, open windows, open garage or shed doors all provide a temptation to steal valuables like bikes, packages, cellphones, purses, tools, yard equipment, decorations — all usually left in plain view. Blooming trees, overgrown shrubs, landscape and tall grass or weeds can provide would-be burglars with places to hide. We have some tips to share to continue to make your summer a safe one.

General Home and Property Safety Tips

  • Install lighting, such as motion lights or dusk-to-dawn detector lights, on your home’s exterior.
  • Trim shrubbery around your home to eliminate hiding places.
  • Your address or address sign (blue number) should be clearly visible from the street for emergency and identification purposes.
  • Close and lock your garage door when you are not nearby. Place valuables stored in the garage in a locking device not visible from the street when the garage door is open.
  • Do not leave bikes unattended. Lock your bikes, even if you are going to be away for only a few moments.
  • If you sleep on the second floor of your home, keep all first floor doors and windows closed and locked.
  • Avoid home improvement scams and deception burglaries by taking a proactive approach. Be particularly alert to anyone in your neighborhood looking to perform home repair and asking to gain entry into your home. Ask to see identification and let them know you are going to call and get verification from their company before allowing them inside. If they are legitimate, they won’t mind the wait.
  • Be a good neighbor and alert law enforcement to any unusual activity in your neighborhood, gather as much information about the activity that you safely can. 

Vehicle Safety Tips

  • Always lock your doors and roll up your windows when you leave your car. Make sure to take your keys with you. 
  • Do not leave valuables in the car. If you must leave possessions in your vehicle, keep them out of sight or hidden in the trunk.
  • Before you get into your car, check the backseat and around the car. 
  • Take keys out of all vehicles, ATVs, utility vehicles and golf carts.

Vacation Tips

  • If you are going out of town, you can notify the sheriff’s office for an extra patrol request so that we can provide some extra patrol around the property as time and call volume allow.
  • Make sure your home is locked up and secure.
  • Stop your mail or have family/friends retrieve it for you.
  • Set a light on a timer inside of your home to create the appearance of activity inside.
  • Exterior motion sensor lighting can aid in deterring crime.
  • Keep valuables away from public view through a window, etc.
  • Do not discuss vacation plans in public or on social media.
  • Utilize Wi-Fi camera systems that provide notifications to cell phones or other devices of motion of persons or vehicles on your property while you are away.

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: By email at tom.burch@co.cass.mn.us ; by phone at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; or by mail or in person at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, 303 Minnesota Ave. W, P.O. Box 1119, Walker, MN, 56484.

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