Although break-ins, thefts and robberies can be a problem for some Carbondale residents, a new neighborhood association president can offer helpful advice for citizens who deal with the issue.
Adam Loos, president of the Northwest Carbondale Neighborhood Association, said theft is a very real danger the group must face on a constant basis even though the organization deals with more than just crime.
A specific part of the organization was created to deal with such conflict, he said.
“We’ve got a safety and security committee, which is made up of members of our board and possibly some members of the organization who are not on the board,” he said.
The association created bylaws for itself in April, one of which is to support crime prevention measures such as a neighborhood watch and has since been incorporated as a not-for-profit group dedicated to preserving city’s northwest section. The association covers West Main Street, North Illinois Avenue, Little Crab Orchard Creek and the city’s northern boundary.
Zachary Kemp, an NCNA member, said theft is a problem for all residents, and many area residents have become victims to theft-related crimes.
Loos said most Carbondale homes are susceptible to theft, and students are especially at risk because they leave for holiday breaks to visit their families.
Amber Goddard, support services officer, said the Carbondale Police Department offers the House Watch program, which is a great aid to residents who leave their house for an extended period of time.
“If you’re going to be gone for a week or two, you sign up and the police department comes at least three times a day to check the premise,” Goddard said.
Jane Adams, member of the Arbor district, an organization similar to the NCNA, said break-in prevention can be as simple as having a well-lit front porch or back yard with motion sensor lights. Adams said window stops can also be helpful because tenants open a window a few inches for ventilation without allowing it to be raised any higher.
She said an open window is a leading way burglars get away with a crime.
“People will have their window open for ventilation, and a burglar comes along and lifts the window and reaches in and gets your iPad or crawls in and takes everything,” Adams said.
Goddard said another leading cause for break-ins is something as simple as owners who forget to lock their doors and windows.
“People, as a general rule, forget to lock their doors,” Goddard said. “They want to save on the electric bill, so they don’t run the air conditioning and they leave the doors and windows open while they’re gone, which invites people to take advantage of them.”
Loos said a call to the police department can be made and an appointment may be set up for an officer to walk an owner through his or her residence and suggest better ways to protect the property if a homeowner or renter wants a professional opinion about keeping the house safe.
Above all else, Loos said, landlords should be immediately contacted if something in a house might lead to easy access to the residence.
“If you’ve got weak door locks, these are the kinds of things you have to ask your landlord to replace so you have better security,” he said.
Although NCNA members have sent neighborhood watch training inquiries to the police department, Loos said the department no longer supports the service because of budget cuts.
However, Goddard said the police department supports neighborhood watch programs.
She said police meet with such groups regularly to make sure citizens and officers can communicate with active problems in the community.
“You become the eyes and ears for the police department because you know what’s out of place in your neighborhood,” Goddard said.