ST. MARYS — In the wake of a string of home invasions stretching from Lima to Dayton, a local police chief says there are a handful of things residents can do to keep homes — and themselves — safe from criminals.
“You should trust your intuition,” St. Marys Police Chief Greg Foxhoven said. “Animals have it. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”
Detecting suspicious vehicles also is something that can help prevent a crime. Foxhoven said if residents do not recognize a vehicle parked in a driveway or along the road, they should contact the police department.
“Any time there is a red flag, call us,” Foxhoven said. “You must always trust your feelings.”
When going away on vacation, Foxhoven encouraged residents to keep the home locked to deter burglars. There also are several other tips residents can follow to keep criminals at bay.
“Obviously keep your doors locked and make sure it’s well lit,” Foxhoven said. “Leave a TV or a radio on so that there is noise — anything to make them (burglars) guess. Dogs at home are always a deterrent — no matter the size because they make noise. At home there is a lot you can do.”
St. Marys Police Sgt. Tim Eberle is trained in crime prevention. Foxhoven said Eberle routinely consults with businesses and homeowners on how to prevent crime.
“He will come through your home and evaluate it for safety,” Eberle said. “He also does presentations for the elderly because they seem to be the most vulnerable ... They can get victimized and are embarrassed by it and they seldom report it, but when they do report it, it’s very big.”
Foxhoven also gave tips for motorists traveling to unfamiliar locations this holiday season.
“When parking, you should leave a car length as an escape route,” Foxhoven said. “That way if someone comes up to you, you can get out.”
The recent double homicide in Fort Recovery has caused a stir in the region, Foxhoven said. As investigators continue to work on the case, Foxhoven said there are things residents can do to help protect themselves.
“I think if you are going to go to the point to buy a firearm to protect your home, which I think is a good idea, you have to learn how to use it first,” Foxhoven said. “You have to get one that’s going to be practical for you and any other family member. If you and your spouse are new to the gun idea, go together, find one that you both can handle and talk to some gun experts.”
Proper training is vital for those purchasing a firearm for protection, Foxhoven said.
“You have to take the time to practice and learn how to use it, learn the safety features of it,” Foxhoven said. “The you have to be careful about storage. Are you a young family with kids at home because you have to be very careful with how you store it. You have to make it safe, yet you have to have a plan.”
Practicing different scenarios also can help make sure residents are prepared if faced with a criminal.
“I know it may sound crazy, but you should do those things,” Foxhoven said. “You practice it, and you rehearse it.”
If anyone suspects any suspicious activity, Foxhoven said it is critical to report it as soon as possible because it will help any possible investigation.
“Even an attempt should be reported,” Foxhoven said. “Call us, we will look into it. We are going to come down and see what the deal is because chances are, it was tied to something else. What sometimes is a concern of ours is that people think they are bothering us. Call us anyway. We are glad to look into it and it’s better safe than sorry.”