Farmington, Hills police promote crime prevention awareness

By: Zachary Manning | Farmington Press | Published April 21, 2021

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — As with any police department, the Farmington and Farmington Hills police are in place to help the community remain safe, and one of the ways to do that is to think like a criminal.

“We always recommend that people look at their house as if they were the criminal,” Farmington Public Safety Department Special Operations Division Cmdr. Bob Houhanisin said. “What would they see that a criminal would see and try to mitigate that as much as possible to make themselves less of a victim.”

With the digital age taking over, scams and internet fraud are becoming ubiquitous. COVID-19 and unemployment are major issues, and many scammers are looking to take advantage of people in these areas.

In the latest edition of the Crime Prevention Times put out by the Farmington Hills Police Department, scam prevention tips are on the list. New editions are put out monthly, with varying tips to ensure the community is staying safe.

A few things to be aware of are survey scams and suspicious numbers, police said. Never pay someone you don’t know over the phone, especially if they are asking for the money in gift cards.

Do not engage with suspicious emails or texts from numbers and senders you don’t know, and refrain from putting out too much personal information on the internet.

Farmington Hills Police Department Chief Jeff King said most crime is down, but fraud is one thing that is up significantly in the city.

“The one area that we saw a significant spike in was those frauds. Those frauds including unemployment fraud cases, internet fraud cases, electronic sales fraud cases,” King said. “People were quarantined for months on end, and businesses were shut down, so a lot of opportunity was created for people that are technologically savvy to venture out and increase their criminal activity in those areas.”

Residents should also guard against crimes of opportunity, such as leaving something valuable in a car and not locking the door. If a person sees something of interest in a car, they won’t necessarily break the window to get it, but they may check to see if the door is unlocked.

It always advised that cars, homes and any other piece of property that can be accessed by others are locked and that important items are hidden away.

“We try to educate our residents, if you’re going to leave your car in the driveway or in the street, No. 1, take the items out that you don’t want to go missing, because if it’s something that’s valuable like a purse or a computer, then they’re going to break the window,” Houhanisin said. “If you are going to leave something in the car, make sure that you lock the doors. Eliminate yourself as that crime of opportunity. Have lights on in front of the house and be aware.”

What’s on the back of someone’s car can give away more information than some may realize.

A personalized license plate can be easy to remember for someone who wants to keep track of a vehicle. Bumper stickers are another way people can learn more about someone.

For example, if someone has a sticker on their car with a child’s school, that’s an easy way for someone to track down that child. Furthermore, a sports bumper sticker could indicate to a criminal that a family may be away from the home on weekends and evenings a lot of the time.

However, both departments acknowledge that these are personal choices and that there is nothing wrong with showing pride in family or personal events in one’s life. But it’s always a good idea to be wary of potential crime that can stem from these things.

“We’re looking at it as trying to give them as much information to make the best decision, the most informed decision they can,” King said.

The “if you see something, say something” policy is promoted by both departments. Being a good witness can go a long way to helping fight crime in a city.

If someone is able to get a license plate or descriptive details, any information can help in the pursuit of crime suspects. Each department is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any issues that arise.

For all emergencies, call 911. For nonemergencies, call the Farmington police at (248) 474-4700 or the Farmington Hills police at (248) 871-2600.

“We are a 24/7 Police Department. We have our command desk that’s open and staffed 24/7,” King said. “We are never too busy to send an officer out to speak with someone in their home and maybe provide a little bit of investigative work or preliminary investigation, maybe some direction.”