Avoid becoming a victim through preventionPrevention, prevention, prevention. That was the admonition Pleasanton Police Chief David Spiller gave to a group of East Bay Realtors and their associates last week in talking about crime in Pleasanton and what they, their clients and the general public need to remember. Although major crimes, such as homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery continue at low levels compared to neighboring cities, everyone here can do much better to protect themselves, their homes and their cars from break-ins and thefts. Simple steps, such as keeping garage doors closed, cars locked, valuables out of sight and even small bathroom windows closed and locked when the homeowners are away, can keep "the bad guys" away.
Even better in Spiller's view are Neighborhood Watch groups and today's high tech surveillance cameras that may be well worth the cost. Not too many years ago, many of us lived in areas where we knew our neighbors, held block parties and saw them as we made our evening walks down the street. Today, Spiller pointed out, there isn't that camaraderie. Sometimes there aren't even sidewalks to walk on. Many of us come home from shopping, school or work, press the button to open the garage door, close it again, and then spend family life inside. Close friends often live a car trip away, not next door. The startup of Neighborhood Watch teams is changing that, with Spiller and his police force frequently alerted now by a watchful neighbor who spots something wrong nearby.
Alarms are good, according to Spiller, but the readily available, easy-to-mount and relatively inexpensive surveillance cameras are even better. Their range allows a taped view of not only a homeowner's front yard and driveway, but often enough of the street out front to help police investigate a car theft, break-in or home burglary. Recently, a Mercedes was recovered shortly after it was taken when a neighbor's camera caught on tape a black pickup truck that was seen parking next to it, Spiller said.
The police chief also discounted frequent stories (often found on the Pleasanton Weekly's online Town Square section) that BART, and particularly the newer West Dublin-Pleasanton BART station, is responsible for more crime here. He said the stations are well protected and watched by both Pleasanton and BART police and offer safe travel for commuters, whether coming here for jobs or heading to other cities. He knows of only one instance where a shoplifter fled a store at Stoneridge Shopping Center and was seen boarding a BART train, again through surveillance cameras. Police were at the Castro Valley station waiting for him a few minutes later.
Spiller distributed copies of the Pleasanton Police Department's annual report for 2011, which Realtors said they will offer to their clients to assure them this is a safe city as well as a great place to live. The report, which shows criminal activity and trend lines, can be viewed online at pleasantonpd.org. A police blotter at the site is updated daily, with police reports also printed here in the Weekly every Friday.