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Durango police offer tips to avoid theft

Holiday season often comes with an uptick in incidents of porch piracy and valuables looted from vehicles
The Durango Police Department is reminding residents to take certain precautions to prevent theft this holiday season, including removing packages from porches in a timely fashion. (Matt Slocum/Associated Press file)

With the holidays fast approaching, the Durango Police Department is reminding residents to protect themselves during an especially busy time of year for thieves.

“As we enter the holiday season, I would expect to see an uptick in porch pirates – the people who come by and steal packages off porches,” said Sgt. Detective Chris Thomson.

Holiday shopping is another draw for thieves who look for people leaving valuables behind in vehicles as they travel from store to store buying gifts.

“Don’t leave things behind in the car,” Thomson said. “But if you do, conceal them so they’re not sitting in plain view.”

Holidays aside, Thomson views recent incidents like the couple who went on a spree of theft that ended in a standoff at a Durango motel on Nov. 7 as an opportunity to learn.

“Anytime we have an incident like that we try to take some sort of takeaways,” he said. “What can we learn from this? And moving forward, how can the community help us? And so for one, people can make an effort to try and prevent these things from happening.”

Thomson offers these tips to prevent home and automobile burglaries:

  • Make your home look occupied and make it difficult to break in.
  • Lock all outside doors and windows before you leave the house or go to bed.
  • Keep your garage door closed and locked. Install deadbolt locks on all outside doors.
  • Don’t leave valuables such as lawn mowers and bicycles outside overnight.
  • Always lock garden sheds and garages.
  • Use curtains on garages and basement windows to conceal valuables inside.
  • Alarm systems are great for home security, but only if you remember to activate them.
  • Install surveillance cameras.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood, call nonemergency dispatch at 385-2900.

“A lot of those tips are just crimes of opportunity,” Thomson said. “The thieves like to steal things that are easy for them to steal.”

The police see that a lot with car break-ins. The simplest theft prevention but sometimes forgotten, is just locking car doors.

“We’ve had incidences in the past where people are literally just walking down the street checking the car doors to find out which are unlocked,” Thomson said. “By making it a little more difficult you can really prevent a lot of theft from happening.”

When it comes to home security, people leaving town for any extended period of time where the house is going to be unattended should notify police.

“Call in a vacation request, and we have a hot sheet, and we will put their address on that list and keep an extra eye out with extra patrols,” Thompson said.

It’s also best to notify the mail carrier and newspaper delivery to hold mail and newspapers while out of town. Any pile up is a signal to thieves that no one is home.

And finally, to avoid the porch pirates, contact the delivery company and make arrangements to have packages held for pickup or delivery set for a time you’re sure to be home.


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