Farmington Hills police offer tips for having a safe, enjoyable summer

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 24, 2019

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FARMINGTON HILLS — With the summer solstice behind us, the longest day of the year marking the beginning of summer, Farmington and Farmington Hills police shared a list of public safety tips to help residents stay safe as they enjoy the outdoors and warm weather.

From protecting your home and automobile to keeping tabs on children and pets, and staying vigilant to suspicious activity, Farmington Hills Assistant Police Chief Jeff King and Farmington Public Safety Director Frank Demers said there are a variety of issues residents should pay special attention to during the summer.

The largest increase in criminal activity both departments deal with during the summer months is larcenies from vehicles.

King said thefts from vehicles becomes a “crime of opportunity” in the summer months, as more people, and criminals, frequent the outdoors.

“It’s easier to be outside. It’s more acceptable to be outside. If you’re walking around in 3 degree weather at 11 p.m. at night in the colder months, that’s odd. It’s not uncommon, or odd, to be out for a walk at 11 p.m. at night in the summer months,” King said. “I know there may be a criminal element that may utilize that to their benefit.”

While King and Demers said many of these incidents are carried out by juveniles, who typically only steal small items like loose change and cellphone chargers, other criminals may be searching for specific valuable items, like laptops, purses or firearms, or for specific vehicle models from which to steal parts.

Demers said the majority of thefts from vehicle reports his department responds to begin because people forgot to lock their car or left their windows down.

“People just let their guard down. Yes, we live in a very safe city, but we’re certainly not immune from people coming in and committing car larcenies and trying to victimize other people,” Demers said. “We really stress locking cars, especially in the overnight hours, and either removing valuables or otherwise keeping them out of sight to make their vehicles less attractive to a thief.”

Vehicles aren’t the only things that should be secured and checked periodically for suspicious activity. Demers and King said home invasions can increase in the summer months for the same reason cars are targeted — there’s a bigger window of opportunity for criminals to quickly grab items and go if spaces like the garage and home are left unlocked and unattended.

“This is the time of year when people should take a 360-degree walk around their home and almost put themselves in the shoes of the burglar or a criminal. Think about the vulnerabilities of your property and what you can do to harden your target, making your home less attractive to thieves,” Demers said.

He advises people to walk around their home during both the daytime and the nighttime hours to assess the different vulnerabilities at each time. He also believes many residents could benefit from increasing their home security systems, installing spotlights or motion sensor lights around their home, and investing in a video doorbell.

King said he realizes residents will be outside more often, whether to garden during the daytime or to enjoy the evening breeze on the back porch, but he stresses to residents to lock their homes, close their garages, and to leave the garage, porch and driveway lights on to deter criminals from thinking no one is home.

“If a thief looks at a well-lit home versus the home next door that’s dark, they’re a lot more likely to attack the dark home as opposed to the well-lit one,” Demers added.

Beyond residents protecting themselves from theft, Demers and King said there are several other, more nuanced public safety concerns of which to be aware.

People should never leave their child, pet or a person incapable of supporting themselves in a car unattended for any period of time, because of how quickly temperatures will rise.

Parents should also be aware of where their kids are, who they’re hanging out with, and whether or not they’re respecting other people’s property, as well as the laws and ordinances of the city.

Subsequently, residents should be cautious while walking or biking within the community, and they should be wary of suspicious solicitors who don’t seem to have the proper permits.

The most important action residents can take to have a safe, successful summer is to call the police if they see any suspicious activity of any kind, King and Demers said.

“Residents have to believe they can call us and not feel they’re bothering us,” King said. “It’s always better to get us involved and verify there’s not a safety situation or criminal action, or something along the lines of mental health and somebody needing assistance. Our job is to serve the citizens, and that’s what we do. When they call us, we’ll be there.”

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