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Season starts with a nasty Spirit of Theft Published on Wed, Dec 2, 2009 by Robert Spinks, Sequim (WA) Police Chief http://www.sequimgazette.com/spinks www.ci.sequim.wa.us/police

Editor's note: Today begins a monthly column written by Robert L. Spinks, chief of the Sequim police department. Its purpose is to inform Sequim Gazette readers about crime and law enforcement issues that lie behind our routine police and courts coverage.

Black Friday has come and gone. Holiday shoppers were lined up before sunrise at local stores ready with the spirit of giving. But in recent weeks there has been a rapid increase in a different kind of spirit - the spirit of taking and theft. The Gazette has reported a string of thefts from local construction sites - not to mention an often unseen rise in thefts from local retailers, car prowls and thefts from garages and front yards. It is unfortunate during this season of giving that we continue to have some folks who are committed to a season of taking. But we can work together to impede that selfish spirit.

Winter's approach, with constricting daylight hours and dropping temperatures, forces many of us indoors; these conditions facilitate thefts, car prowls and vandalism. Citizens are the first line of defense against crime and are just as critical in solving crimes after they occur. Suspicious? Call Reporting suspicious activity - especially crimes - helps the police department readjust patrols, focus on problem areas and use resources effectively. The barking dog may be just a barking dog or it could be the only warning of a burglary or theft in your neighbor's garage. A loud party may be just a loud party; but that noise also may be a violent domestic disturbance, an assault or a burglary. Case in point: A bicycle is stolen from a front yard. Realistically, without a serial

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number that can be entered into state and federal law enforcement systems, there is a low probability that the bike will be located.

Robert L. Spinks is the Sequim chief of police. His column appears on the Prime Time page the first week of each month.

But, in a local case, a citizen mentioned this theft to a patrol officer at a convenience store. The officer documented this theft with a report and canvassed the surrounding neighborhood. Thefts were solved Suddenly, a whole series of unreported minor thefts, vandalism and prowling came to light. Neighbors said they felt the incidents were minor and probably not solvable, so no one called police. Documenting these minor crimes showed they added up to a significant neighborhood problem. Police patrols were adjusted; emphasis was placed on getting neighbors to be alert. It wasn't long before suspects were identified and the series of minor crimes was solved, with some of the stolen property recovered. More importantly this cycle of crime, this spirit of taking, was broken before it escalated into something such as burglaries. Sequim has 16 Neighborhood Watch programs that are effective in preventing crime before it happens. If you'd like to organize your neighborhood, Sequim Crime Prevention Officer Maris Turner is available to grow a new program. On the other hand, the simple act of being a nosy neighbor, being alert and phoning the Sequim Police Department at 683-7227 to report suspicious activity is beneficial. If our community continues to develop its reputation of being alert, crimes will be prevented.

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Season starts with a nasty Spirit of Theft