First published in the Dec. 16 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
While the holiday season is filled with wishes of peace and good will for all, for those in law enforcement the season also might bring with it an unfortunate increase in crime.
San Marino Police Department Commander Aaron Blondé urges residents to safeguard themselves against unlawful activities by being diligent and aware.
After experiencing a significant drop by as much as 30% in offenses over the beginning of the year in crimes such as robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson, the commander cautioned against complacency.
The 20-year police veteran encourages the community to be on the watch during the holiday season when habits and norms are altered.
One of the more frequent offenses is the theft of mail or packages from homes. Blondé, who called perpetrators of these crimes “porch pirates,” encouraged residents to have packages sent to a house or location where there is someone who can sign for its receipt.
“Otherwise, it is out in the open for someone to take away,” said Blondé. “This is an ongoing issue, but it gets even worse during the holidays.”
He said that traditional holiday lighting can open the door to unwanted visitors.
“Of course, around the holidays everyone wants to have their lights on, but that means that others can see the presents and other things that arrive during the holidays,” said Blondé. “If at all possible, keep the lights on when you are away that make it look like you are home, but be sure to hide presents.”
He also encouraged community members to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and activate any alarms or security cameras.
“We have had many situations where the residents have been burglarized even though they have alarms,” Blondé explained. “But it often turns out that they have not been activated. If you have them, activate them.”
He said that vehicles are more vulnerable this time of year due to frequent trips for shopping, parties and other activities associated with the holidays.
“Many times, when cars are burglarized, it is because valuables have been left in plain sight,” he said. “There are a lot of things that we can do to protect valuables in our automobiles.”
Blondé suggested placing articles in a car trunk, but also hiding them out of sight should the trunk be opened. He said that there are devices on the market that amount to a safe.
He said that cars that are parked in the same location for several days are also targeted by thieves.
“If you are able to move your car around, that is a good idea,” Blondé explained. “If a car sits for days on end, [thieves] get hip to what is going on. We recommend moving it.”
The commander also encouraged vigilance while wearing expensive jewelry or being in possession of other valuable items.
“That increases your chance for a robbery,” he explained. “Be vigilant when leaving home or your place of employment. Don’t have a false sense of security.”
He encouraged residents to call San Marino Police Department at (626) 300-0720 if they have any concerns.
“The biggest thing right now is to be extra cautious during the holidays,” he concluded. “Be aware of your surroundings.”