Today Captain Craig Stevens of the San Ramon Police Department spoke at our club. Captain Stevens is a 26 year law enforcement veteran and a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Craig has a family and enjoys skiing and playing golf with them.

Captain Stevens spent the majority of his talk discussing the rise in property crimes as a result of the passage of California proposition 47. Briefly, this proposition relaxes penalties for property theft of up to $1000. Consequently, there is reduced disincentive for criminals to commit these crimes. As Captain Stevens point it out, criminals caught in such acts of theft or burglary simply receive a ticket and are sent on their way. This means that a criminal can walk into a Target store and walk out with nearly $1000 worth of merchandise and simply get a ticket.

Captain Stevens pointed out that San Ramon and Danville are very safe locations in California to live; Danville ranks #5 and San Ramon #17 on the list of safest cities in California. However, even in our relatively safe community, property crime has been increasing. For example ID theft is now much more common and will continue to grow because of the nature of how our personal information has become embedded in the Dark Web. Capt. Stevens discussed how becoming a victim of ID theft is not only a very unpleasant experience but entails a cumbersome and time-consuming task of untangling one’s personal information, re-establishing good credit and securing compromised accounts. While no one can become perfectly safe From ID theft, there are steps you can take to protect it. One of the more extreme actions includes the ability to completely freeze your credit by contacting all three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union). As a result of this “lock” on your accounts, no one can run your credit. Inconveniently, however, you must unfreeze it every time you wish to make a transaction requiring credit. Less severe methods of ID protection include signing up for a service which monitors your account activities and flag you on suspicious activity. The service is usually cost about $10 per month and can be obtained at one of the three credit agencies. Another tip concerning credit protection is to shred all mail that contain sensitive information, in particular credit card applications. “Dumpster divers” are known to forage for such information.

Captain Steven’s went on to discuss the increase in property crimes in the area. This includes both auto and home invasion burglaries. He mentioned that these are “crimes of opportunity” and it is up to us to minimize these ‘open avenues to crime’. Firstly, it is best not to leave anything of value in the car at all. If you must, however, make sure that it is out of sight. Criminals are known to break into cars for even small items such as loose change that is left in ashtrays. To discourage auto burglaries he recommends parking in well lit areas.

Captain Stevens mentioned that home burglaries usually occur during the daytime when criminals know that residents are at work. They typically “case” neighborhoods by going door-to-door posing as solicitors gathering information. In general, he recommends never to employ door-to-door contractors. It is best to directly contact the company. Many of these door-to-door solicitors are fly-by-nighters who take your money and run. He recommends that if someone unknown comes to your door, rather than ignoring them, let them know that you are there by shouting “not interested!”. If the criminal believes no one is home, they could invade with you inside of the house! Other tips include installing a home alarm system, keeping a dog on the premises, keeping doors locked, informing neighbors when you will be absent on vacation, reporting any suspicious activity to the police, and don’t put sticky notes on doors indicating you are gone and when you will be back!

Finally, home camera based monitoring systems are proving to be invaluable in solving crimes and deterring them. Even if your home has not been burglarized, the camera systems provide data police can use to solve other crimes in the area. In San Ramon citizens can offer the use of their camera systems for such purposes by signing up for “Citizen View”.

Quote of the day:

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”