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Jeb Bladine: Busy police need help from citizens

McMinnville homes, vehicles and buildings make lucrative targets for thieves, including individual and organized car prowls. That popular violation of our personal space and possessions has spread to Carlton, where the Police Department has launched a new “Lock It or Lose It” campaign.

“Getting in the mindset of locking doors to your home, garages and vehicles is the first step of minimizing the chance of becoming a crime victim,” said Police Chief Kevin Martinez.

I can imagine many residents of Carlton and other small communities reflecting on past days when they didn’t feel the need for locks and alarms. Those memories still exist in McMinnville but are many decades old.

In McMinnville, police don’t differentiate car prowls when they enter crime reports into an online database, but you can bet that category figured prominently among 552 theft reports filed during the past six months. The database also shows 40 McMinnville thefts of vehicles since May.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

One of our readers reacted to the Carlton campaign by disputing the value of locking cars: “I don’t lock my car. I leave nothing in there … I would rather them open the door than break a window. Bottom line, if they want in your car, they will get in your car!”

Remove your valuables, by all means, but I still favor Chief Martinez’s advice. Skilled criminals can enter locked vehicles too easily, but don’t leave a welcome mat for kids, petty thieves or random derelicts to rummage for spare money and forgotten items.

As Dorothy said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Car prowl thefts are highly distressing to victims — here and nationally — but that’s just one of the crime-report categories faced daily by local police.

In that same six months, MPD recorded 348 property crimes and 93 breaking & entering cases; the database shows 64 assaults, five robberies and 55 weapons offenses; there were 572 calls on various forms of “disorder,” along with 160 incidents involving drugs and 40 tied to alcohol. Sex crimes, mental health and suicide calls are excluded from the online crime database.

Still, local residents and visitors most often come into contact with police officers on the city street system. Since May 1, MPD has chronicled 3,346 vehicle stops, 24 pedestrian stops and 884 traffic incidents.

All that said, we remain fortunate in urban and rural areas to be well-patrolled by vigilant law enforcement officers. Citizens should do their part by locking doors, driving carefully and being watchful for criminal activities.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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