The following summer safety tips come from Officer Jeff Morgan, the Cary Police Department Community Services Coordinator:
As temperatures remain high and school has let out for the summer, it is a good time to remind everyone of a few tips to help prevent the seasonal increase in criminal activity in your neighborhood.
1. We encourage YOU to call the Police Department anytime you see someone sitting in a car in your neighborhood that you don’t recognize and appears to be there for no apparent reason. We would call this a “Suspicious Vehicle.” It would also be appropriate to call us if you were to see one of these Suspicious Vehicles in a neighbor’s driveway, particularly if you know your neighbor is out of town or at work. Most of the tips that help us solve cases come from observant neighbors who see something out of the ordinary and call us.
2. WHAT NUMBERS TO CALL
- 911 for emergencies when you see a crime in progress (someone is going into someone’s house or carrying items out of a house)
- 919-469-4012 for suspicious cars or people who haven’t quite done anything yet. This number goes directly to our Police Communications, however if you can’t remember this number, just call 911. To avoid tying up an emergency line unnecessarily, program the non-emergency number into your phone.
3. If you call us, here is what our dispatcher will want to know from you.
- What does the car/vehicle look like (Color, make/model).
- What does the person look like (Race/male/female clothing description).
- Which way did they leave (if they leave prior to Police arrival). If you are able to take a picture of the car via your cellphone or other camera that would be great too. If possible while still remaining at a safe distance and without confronting the subject, try to get the license plate number.
- Many ask about people knocking on their door. Solicitors need to have a Town of Cary Permit visibly hanging from their clothing when they come to your door. If you don’t see it, don’t open the door. Instead, call us to come out and validate what they are doing. In fact, we tell people not to open the door for anyone they don’t recognize. You can always talk THROUGH the door without opening it. You should be able to figure out pretty quickly what their intentions are. You can always say, “I’m Not Interested.” If they persist, tell them that you are calling the Police, and they will likely leave. If they still don’t leave, then call 911 and let the dispatcher know what’s going on so that an officer can come out to speak with them.
5. Should you answer the door if you are home alone?
- In my experience, it is better for the person at the door to know someone is home regardless of who is there. Burglars who break into houses are looking for homes that are unoccupied. If they are a burglar and think no one is home, they may try to break in to your house. Then they are breaking into your home, WHILE YOU'RE INSIDE. I would prefer to use the techniques that I spoke about above in the SOLICTOR’S section or from the list of tips below to avoid getting into that type of situation.
6. Lock your doors and set your alarm
- One of the easiest, and free, means of preventing a vehicle break-in is to simply lock your doors. Take your valuables, such as GPS, tablet, laptop, cell phone, sunglasses, etc into your house and lock your doors. By far the greater number of vehicle break-ins in Cary are due to unlocked doors. Everyone forgets to lock the door occasionally, but try to get into the habit.
- Also, remember to set your home alarm, if equipped, while you’re away even for a quick trip to the store. Alarms won’t always prevent a burglary, but they can certainly reduce the amount of time a burglar will spend ransacking your house and stealing your possessions. An alarm will also give the Police an opportunity to get to the area soon after the activation and a better chance of catching the burglar.
Here’s a list of tips for you and your children in case they are home by themselves:
- One never has to open a door. An individual can loudly ask, “Who is it?” Ideally, a child would have a phone or cell phone nearby to call a parent or 9-1-1 if they are uncertain about what to do. The child can speak through the door and say, “My dad is in the bathroom and can’t come to the door right now. Please come back at another time.” If the person does not leave immediately, have them call 911 and ask the dispatcher to send a Police Officer to the house. The child can tell the dispatcher they are home alone, and a stranger is on their porch and won’t leave. Reinforce that the child NEVER opens the door for a stranger and to keep the door locked.
- Another tip: a child (or any other person), if alone in the house, can call out loudly (to create the impression that others are in the house) “Mom, Dad, Grandma, someone is at the door!”
- Or, if there is an alarm in the house, and the child is afraid because he does not recognize the person at the door, activate the panic button. The police who respond will not be angry. Better safe than sorry.
- If the caller is trying to force the door, the child can run out the back door. If that is not possible, hide (Ideally with a cell phone or home phone in hand) and call 911 immediately.
- During hours of darkness, make sure blinds/shades are drawn and some lights on so passersby can’t determine that a child is alone in the house.
Officer Jeff Morgan
Cary Police Department Community Services Coordinator
120 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC 27513