The Smoke Signal

Vehicle Break-Ins

Is This a Sign of Growing Danger in the Community?

Photo provided by Creative Commons.

Photo provided by Creative Commons.

Gracyn Taylor, Journalist

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This year alone there have been 30 car break-ins within Ripon with reports of items that have been stolen from inside and reports of 131 vehicle break-ins in 2017. However, most of these cars were said to have been unlocked and had valuable items in plain sight when they were broken into.

When asked what citizens should do in order to prevent this from happening to them, Ripon Chief of Police Edward Ormonde stated, “ The department recommends that you do not use your vehicle for storage and placing items that you may temporarily have in your vehicle out of sight from would-be thieves”.

Keeping valuable items put away in the glove box or somewhere hidden and out of sight in the vehicle is an important factor in keeping possible thieves from getting inside your car. Having things in plain sight may attract possible thieves and tempt them to steal from inside.

“Another important step our community members can take is to lock your vehicle when unattended. Many people that report items stolen from their cars report the action as a break-in when usually the car was unlocked. We have seen criminals steal anything from laptops, backpacks, cell phones, sunglasses, and even loose change,” Ormonde stated.

A map posted to the Ripon Police Department website shows the instances of larceny (theft of personal property) from January 2018. Find more crime maps here.

It is important to keep anything out of sight, no matter how insignificant because thieves will go after it. Citizens of a small and mostly safe community should remember that crime can happen in their town too and that they are not immune to being the victims. Having a small town mentality is great until the citizens are taken advantage of by criminals.

“This is a reoccurring issue because of the lack of seriousness. Everyone thinks ‘Oh, it’s not going to happen to me so why should I worry about this situation’. But communication and spreading the word will help solve this problem” stated break-in victims Aubree Pelon and her mother Laura Pelon.

To prevent break-ins from happening, it is vital to keep valuable items out of your car and to understand just why these incidents have been happening.

“I believe there are many factors contributing to the increase of general crime within our community, much of which can be traced back to the changes in our state’s laws and the lax penalties for criminals who break these laws. This can be seen after the passage of Assembly Bill 109 (Public Safety Realignment) in October 2011, Proposition 47 (Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act) in January 2015, and Proposition 57 (Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements) in November 2016,” stated Ormonde, “These acts of legislation reduced penalties and reclassified criminal acts that hold law-breakers less accountable for their actions, and placing them back on the streets to commit further crime without fear of repercussions”.

These acts of legislation reduced penalties and reclassified criminal acts that hold law-breakers less accountable for their actions, and placing them back on the streets to commit further crime without fear of repercussions”

— Ed Ormonde, Chief of Police

The relaxed laws that have been invoked on criminals in the last few years have caused crime rates to increase because the laws allow for lesser consequences which cause criminals to be less intimidated by what could happen to them after they commit a crime.

Ormonde goes on to mention that it is important to pay attention to the communities around us as their crime rates continue to increase because it will inevitably affect us in our community as well. As of 2016, 67 percent of the people that were arrested by RPD for felony crimes and 71 percent of the people arrested for misdemeanors did not live in Ripon. The reduction of 15 percent of Ripon Police officers also attributes to the growing crime within the community. In 2010, due to the Great Recession, the department suffered a staffing loss of five policemen, two Community Service Officer positions, and a Records Clerk position and it is yet to recover all of the jobs except for one officer position.

Citizens begin to feel less safe when multiple crimes start occurring within their community in a short amount of time. Many feel their town is being targeted and that their hometown is in a downfall.

“This I believe is a sign of growing danger due to more and more break-ins occurring. The ones committing the crimes feel ‘pro’ enough and have a mindset of doing well at what they do because they haven’t been caught. This could lead to them doing something more dangerous and harmful to our community,” stated Pelon.

Although the criminals committing these break-ins have not been caught, the Ripon Police Department is doing everything they can to ensure the safety of Ripon and its citizens and working hard to keep crime away from this town.

“The police department operates in a philosophy of being proactive,” Ormonde said when asked what the department is doing to prevent crimes from happening, “We would rather prevent crime from occurring rather than be reactive to the aftermath the criminal has created. This is one reason why officers are very active in contacting people in our community”.

Ormonde went on to explain the actions the department is taking to secure the town.

“Routinely department staff is monitoring crime reports, intelligence gathered through investigations, and other activity in our community to determine crime patterns and potential locations where criminal activity is likely to occur. The department then alters where we deploy resources in an attempt to prevent crime, or arrest suspects when crimes occur. This can include saturating specific parts of our community with additional officers, changing shift hours of officers, and adding overtime shifts for staff. We may also utilize our technological advances to help in gathering data and capturing illegal activity,” Ormonde said.

Citizens are happy and feel reassured that the Ripon Police Department is being proactive in the community in order to erase any possible crime that may occur. However, even though the police are working hard at making Ripon safer, the ever-growing crime in the community still has community members feeling uneasy.

 “It makes my family and I feel on edge. We are more cautious now that these events are taking place and for the ones who have gotten their vehicles broken into, our hearts go out to them because we have dealt with a similar situation,” Laura Pelon stated.

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