Crime Prevention Discussion – our Feb. 21 meeting

Crest Drive Citizen’s Association General Meeting February 22, 2012; 07:00 pm – 8:20 pm

9 neighbors attended; David Kolb, chairperson, and Karen Austin, secretary also present.

Two topics tonight: Crime Prevention, Urban Growth Boundary Possible Expansion: important dates.

Most of the neighbors attending are from the Crest Drive area and Blanton/Crest/Lorane in or near the proposed area for inclusion in the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB).

Crime Prevention

Officer Tod Schneider, Crime Prevention specialist, spoke to our group.

His jurisdiction is this south part of Eugene. He focuses on crime prevention and comes to people’s homes to talk to homeowners about making their homes more secure. He also helps people that have been vandalized. The crime rate in Crest Drive neighborhood is low compared to central Eugene, but many houses in this neighborhood are secluded and vulnerable.

Thieves typically cruise an area, sometimes driving walking or biking, and if they happen to be in the area as you leave, they know you will be gone for at least 10 minutes and might take advantage of an opportunity. Thieves tend to look for a house where no one has been home for a while. Signs they look for include grass not mowed, porch lights on all day, newspapers or fliers piled on porch. Also looking for houses that are for sale and not occupied; they will take refrigerators and dishwashers from unoccupied homes.

First line of defense is to make it look like someone is home. Lights, TV on, radios going, lights on timers to go on and off at appropriate times. One solution when you are away from home is to use a house sitter, or have a neighbor look after your home.

Criminals often ring the front door and if no one answers will go around into the backyard and break in. If someone comes to your door and you feel something isn’t right, call your neighbors immediately (Neighborhood Watch phone tree) to help you keep an eye on this person. Call police with details about the person, even if police don’t always act on your call. In specific instances an officer might come and question someone in your neighborhood, because this person could be a suspect in another crime. It is important to take down specific information if you see someone in your area that is suspicious, such as car license plate numbers.

Thieves may not want to work as hard as it may take to get into your house. Make sure you have good locks on windows and doors and keep them locked when not home. Thieves can use your garage door opener in a car parked in driveway to get into your garage. Older windows and sliding doors may be loose in the tracks and can be lifted out. Deadbolt locks on all exterior doors will help. A deadbolt lock that has needs a key on both interior/exterior is not to code, but it is harder to break into. One way to prevent window entry is to use security film plastic on the inside of windows around doors, which prevents the glass from coming apart and falling out when the glass breaks. The security film is tough and very difficult to cut through. One can use this film to reinforce glass near door latches. This material is about $10 per square foot. Another option is wrought iron bars over windows, but these are not commonly used in Eugene. Another choice is the use of alarm systems.

Alarm systems should be professionally installed. Officer Schneider recommends getting bids from several alarm installation companies. There are two kinds of systems. Internal systems make noise at the home and can also record information. External systems make noise locally and send a signal to an external location.

A local alarm system should have an alarm that is really loud inside and outside, to scare the intruder and alert your neighbors. These involve a one-time cost. One can pay a monthly maintenance fee but it is a relatively small amount. Internal systems can trigger an alarm in the home and send a message to cell phone or email to let you know that your home alarm was triggered. These systems can also take camera footage from the interior or exterior of your home and send it to a remote web site, which the homeowner can then view remotely. If you can see evidence of a home break-in on camera it is considered a verified break-in by the police department. Eugene has a verified response alarm policy which means they won’t come to your home unless someone can confirms that they have seen evidence of someone breaking into the home. If a neighbor sees a broken window or sees someone entering the house it is a verified break-in. It is important to have someone, a neighbor or friend, to come to your house and turn off the alarm.

External systems are monitored by personnel of an alarm company, and charge a monthly fee. They can also use cameras inside or outside to visually inspect your home. If your alarm is triggered, alarm company staff will first call your phone number, and if they don’t get a response, or if the person at the residence cannot give them the password, they will send out a security guard to your home to investigate. If they find evidence of a break-in they will call police.

Another preventative measure is to mark your property with your name, ad to write down serial numbers of electronics, and take photos of everything. Then if you have a break-in and things are stolen, police can put descriptions of your stolen items in a national database, and they are more likely to be returned to you if found.

You can call Officer Schneider at the Eugene Police Department with questions or request that he come evaluate your home for prevention steps you can take to have a more secure home.

Possible Expansion of Urban Growth Boundary (UGB)

The group discussed the area adjacent to our neighborhood which has been identified as possibly included in the UGB expansion proposal (along Crest and Lorane near the Crest & Chambers intersection, just outside the current UGB). There are 3 large parcels in this area, the largest of which is 132 acres (south of the intersection of Crest & Chambers) and two smaller parcels to the north and west. The landowner is proposing that these lands are marginal (legal definition) and should not be considered agricultural-forest land (current designation). Marginal lands can have a higher density of housing allowed under state law than agricultural-forest lands. Right now these areas are zoned for 40 acre lots and the landowner would like to develop at a higher density.

There will be a hearing at 7 pm on March 6th at Harris Hall, County Bldg. (8th & Oak) to consider this land zoning proposal. The Planning Commission will make a recommendation on whether these 3 land parcels in the Crest/Chambers area should be considered marginal land rather than agriculture-forest land.

Important dates and meetings regarding the possible UGB expansion:

• The County Planning Commission will make a recommendation on whether the 3 land parcels near the Crest/Chambers area should be considered marginal land. If you’d like to learn more or if you’d like be counted as someone who considers the zoning in this area important, please join other Crest and Blanton neighbors at 7 pm on March 6 at Harris Hall, County Building at 8th & Oak.

• On March 14 the Eugene City Manager will make a draft recommendation about any expansions of the UGB.

• The City of Eugene will hold community forums to present the draft recommendation and gather comments; the forums in our part of town will be on April 3rd @ Churchill HS, and April 12th @ South Eugene HS.

Karen Austin, secretary.