Residents urged to take crime precautions

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 1/7/97.

You are alone at home and you hear someone moving around the house, quick call 911. Paynesville Police Chief Bill Drager urges area residents to call 911 when someone breaks into their home or if things donít appear right at a neighborís home.

The Paynesville Police have received numerous complaints throughout the year on people soliciting door to door and about break-ins.

What can a person do to prevent a break-in or burglary? Install deadbolt locks on doors and make sure your windows are locked, Drager said. ďBurglars donít like to make noise, such as breaking a window, so lock your windows. If the locks donít work, repair them. If you are renting, talk with your landlord about installing locks on the windows if there arenít any,Ē he added.

Drager also cautioned people not to leave their doors unlocked when they leave home. Pull the drapes when you are not home as well as when you are at home, then the burglar canít see what you have within reach.Ē Drager cautioned residents to install timers on their lights, clocks and radios to deter burglars. ďIf the house looks lived in, burglars will think twice about breaking in,Ē he added.

Another precaution is to notify the police department when you leave home for a few days. The police department has a security check form homeowners can fill out, it tells them who has access to the home and who doesnít.

ďIf you are going to be gone in the summer, have someone mow the lawn and in the winter, hire someone to shovel the snow to make the place lived in,Ē Drager said.

Drager also urged people to lock their car doors and donít leave packages, tapes or cigarettes in plain view. ďWhen you park your car at night, park in a lighted area,Ē he added. ďAnd never leave your purse in your car.Ē

A big problem during the winter months is fish house burglaries. Drager stressed it is hard to prevent a burglary in a fish house, so donít leave anything of value behind when you leave.

ďAnother problem is soliciting, there is no law against it,Ē Drager said. Last summer people called complaining about solicitors for paving driveways, roof repairs, magazine sales, and fruit sales. People selling food products are required to register with the Stearns County Sheriffís Department.

Drager reminded people there is a law calling for a three-day cooling off period. If a consumer changes their mind about a purchase, they can back out of a contract, any contract, within three days. ďYou donít have to purchase anything you donít want to. You can change your mind,Ē he added. ďIf an offer is too good to be true, then it usually is,Ē he said. ďTo a con artist, everyone is fair game.Ē

The Paynesville Police Department has a film, ďToo Good to be True,Ē which is available to the public for viewing. The film talks about how people run scams, placing pressure on prospective buyers to make down payments. The film talks about how consumers lose millions every year to con artists. People crave bargains and donít ask questions when red flags are raised about a sale...they donít use common sense, the film states.

Stearns County Sheriffís Department has a Triad program which helps educate people on ways to reduce crimes against the elderly.

Triad is an agreement of the law enforcement agencies in a county and older persons in the community to work together. Triad educates people and assists in the training of volunteers to work with the police and sheriffís department. Why is Triad necessary? Because about one in every eight Americans must face the realities of aging. Regardless of their circumstances, most older people worry about crime and fear they may become victims.

Many types of crimes involve people of all ages: frauds and scams, purse snatching, pick pocketing, theft of checks from the mail and crimes in long-term care settings. Many elderly fear crime. Some seniors take sensible precautions and then get on with their lives. For others the fear of crime alters their lifestyle and even governs their existence.

Dan Winkles, liaison officer with the Stearns County Sheriffís Department is in Paynesville to work with the school and the elderly. If anyone has questions about starting a Triad program in Paynesville, contact Winkles through the Paynesville Area High School, 320-243-3761.

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