Here is the latest "City Watch" alert from Senior Deputy Tim Lohman of the Thousand Oaks Police Department. If you would like these updates directly from via email, click here for more information.
As we step into the month of October, we brace ourselves for the Santa Ana winds that strike like clockwork. The wind can cause havoc for firefighters and law enforcement as well as pool owners and people with allergies. This is also the time of year we need to be vigilant for arsonists as they embrace this time of year as an opportunity to come out of the woodwork and start fires.
We have had a relatively dry year; therefore an arsonist will use the winds and the dry conditions to accomplish their task. We all know from past arson fires the amount of destruction a fire can cause by destroying homes, property and displacing families, as well as the financial burden placed on people. Therefore, we ask that you report all suspicious persons entering or leaving a mountainous area prone to fire.
This month also brings Halloween, when most children are out wearing their favorite costume and visiting homes in your neighborhood. We need to remind ourselves there are issues when you mix the darkness with children, costumes and vehicles. The following safety tips are provided to keep your children safe:
For parents and children:
- Children under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult.
- Stay in a well lit and well populated area.
- Set a time for your children to be home and have them check in frequently.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Parents should remind children to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
- Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk; don't run, across the street.
- Check the website www.meganslaw.ca.gov for sex offenders living in your area and avoid these homes.
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day so you can spot children from greater distances.
- Remember that costumes can limit children's visibility and they may not be able to see your vehicle.
- Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
Costumes and Treats
- Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and choose light colored costumes to improve visibility.
- Choose face paint and make-up instead of masks, which can obstruct a child's vision. Look for non-toxic designations when choosing Halloween makeup.
- Avoid carrying sticks, swords, or other sharp objects.
- Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as to be seen by drivers.
- Check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. Candy should be thrown away if the wrapper is faded or torn, or if the candy is unwrapped.
On average, twice as many kids are killed or injured while walking on Halloween as compared to any other day of the year. This year lets not make your child one of them. Have a safe Halloween.
On the Crime front
A couple of months ago, we had a rash of catalytic converter thefts. Like most thieves, when one thief gets caught, another resurfaces. It’s a typical game of cat and mouse.
In the last week, we have had seven such thefts. The thieves are so brazen they hit at anytime with some occurring in broad daylight. These thefts can be completed in less than 5 minutes.
The vehicle of choice recently has been the Toyota Tundra, although, this does not preclude other vehicles. We have seen RV’s and Toyota 4-runners in the past. If the vehicle has good ground clearance it can be victim to this type of theft.
If you own the vehicles mentioned try to park in a garage. If the garage is not available to you be aware of suspicious persons or vehicles in your neighborhood and report them.
If you hike at Wildwood Park do not leave your valuables in plain sight. We have received calls of thefts from vehicles in the past week. People tend to put valuables in the car trunk. Keep in mind you never know whom maybe lurking in the parking lot or watching you from a parked car as you secure your valuables in the trunk. If you are not going to take valuable items with you on your hike, then leave them at home.
A thief can easily smash your vehicle window and get inside. Once inside, the thief can open your trunk and take the items you secured.
On three separate occasions the Thousand Oaks Police Department responded to a suspicious fire in the area of Greenmeadow Avenue. The investigation determined the fire was set intentionally. During a surveillance being conducted in the area, a 13 year old was contacted and ultimately arrested for starting the three fires. Due to the proactive approach, this juvenile was unable to start another fire, which could have been devastating.
It is important to report suspicious persons or activities immediately. Remember if it’s a crime in progress and requires an emergency response call 911, otherwise contact (805) 654-9511 for non-emergencies.
Ventura County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $1,000 reward for information, which leads to the arrest and criminal complaint against the person(s) responsible for these type of crimes. The caller may remain anonymous. The call is not recorded. Call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Until next time, stay safe