August, 27th, 2013 from 6 pm to 8 pm
The content of this meeting has been reformatted from a mainly question and answer format to retain continuity. Most answers were given by the police and some content was from Bill Farmer and Diane Lawless.
49 people were in attendance including Commander Pape from the Lexington Police, 5th District Council member Bill Farmer, 3rd District Council member Diane Lawless, and Beth Overman from the Mayor’s Office. Jay Christian, President of the Kenwick Neighborhood Association, gave the introductions.
Commander Pape brought data regarding crimes that have occurred in within Kenwick bounds between 2008 and 2013 (to date) to compare crime rates in our area over time (see following pages). He said 2009 was a great year for crime reduction in Lexington, but after 2010 crime rates went back up. In the Kenwick area, there was a large increase in burglaries in 2012. This year has seen a 30% reduction in burglaries for the year to date compared with last year. Total crimes in the Kenwick area were down 10% for the year to date. Incidents of theft are up 100% compared with last year to date. He also said that he did not feel that there was a consistent identifiable upward trend in crime at this time. To help view the trends in property crimes more easily, there is a chart for total property crimes for 2008 through 2012 and 2013 to date. 2013 is not yet complete, but Commander Pape said crime tends to escalate in the summer and taper off through the remainder of the year.
Types of Crimes and Criminals:
Many of the crimes being committed are crimes of opportunity. For example, almost all of the car thefts in Lexington involve a car that was left running or had keys inside the car. A recent car theft in Kenwick involved a car that was left running unattended at 3 am. Many items are being taken from unlocked cars or from yards.
The police are doing the best they can to get criminals arrested and off the street. Bill Farmer mentioned the police force is almost back to full strength as new trainees are all working and almost all positions are filled. The criminals operating in Kenwick and Mentelle are adults making a living off “borrowing your stuff”, juveniles that are bored, residents, outsiders, and transients. Sometimes they work solo and sometimes in groups. Gangs related crimes have not been an issue in Kenwick. Because of these facts, it is not possible to be on the look out for a defined group of individuals. Crimes are occurring during the daytime and at night.
The court system tries to get the maximum sentences, in particular repeat offenders. Some of those arrested for property crimes may only remain in jail for 10 days before being released. In 2012, Kentucky House Bill 463 was passed, reduced sentencing for smaller property crimes and drug offenses. Some people believe that House Bill 463 may be causing an increase in property crime such as theft. Commander Pape says is very difficult to tell if House Bill 463 is directly effecting the current rate of property crime.
Recommendations for Reducing Crime:
- Make yourself and your neighborhood less of a target. Clearly there are criminals that are targeting Kenwick and Mentelle and they know where to find valuable items. Make it harder for criminals to operate in our neighborhood.
- Keep your car, garage, and home locked.
- Do not leave valuables in your car. If required, leave them out of view in your trunk.
- Don’t leave your car running unattended or leave keys in a locked car.
- Be aware of the landscaping and fencing around your home. Is it easy for a criminal to remain hidden while they seek entry into your home, garage, or car? Trees should clear the ground by 10 feet. Shrubs should be low to the ground. Trim trees by windows.
- Secure items outdoors: especially tools, bikes.
- Don’t leave ladders outside. You are giving them another item to steal or you are giving criminals access to your or your neighbors second floor.
- Invest in what crime deterrents you can afford:
i. Motion activated lights
ii. Use lights on timers when you are away from home
iii. Security cameras – These can be less expensive than security systems. Commander Pape believes they should be visible instead of hidden to serve as a deterrent. Arrests and convictions can be made based on video footage. Package deals can be purchased if you want to share with neighbors.
iv. Security alarm systems – You can purchase alarm systems with or without more costly company based monthly monitoring fees. An alarm system can reduce your homeowner’s insurance. Check that any alarm monitoring company is reputable, licensed and bonded. Diane Lawless mentioned Bates Security as a local licensed bonded company as an option. If you have an alarm system, remember to register with system with the Police’s False Alarm Reduction Unit (http://www.lexingtonky.gov/index.aspx?page=123).
- Be aware of suspicious activity and keep the police and your neighbors informed.
- If you see a suspicious car or person(s), call the police non-emergency line at 258-3600 so the police can check and make sure they belong. If you see a crime in progress call 911.
- If you are approached by a person selling magazine subscriptions/candy/yard services/alarm systems or is asking for gas money, turn them away and call the police non-emergency line at 258-3600. If they are legitimate, they will be allowed to move on or will be given assistance. These individuals may be using these excuses to knock on your door to check if you are home or they may be part of a scam. By calling, you might help the police catch in individual that already has committed a crime or at least drive that person out of the neighborhood.
- This is more of an issue downtown, but if you see evidence of squatters in an unoccupied residence - call the police non-emergency line at 258-3600. The police will also work with code enforcement to try to make sure lots are maintained so they do not appear vacant.
- If you feel particular issues are not being addressed, you may also contact your council member:
i. Bill Farmer, 5th District, call lexcall 311
ii. Diane Lawless, 3rd District, call lexcall 311
- Stay in contact with your close neighbors. Pick a neighbor or two that you trust. Let them know when you are home and when you are away.
- Use email, facebook, or other means of digital communication to alert your neighbors of a crime or suspicious activity after reporting it to the police. Kenwick, Mentelle, and Fairway have very active Facebook Pages. Fairway also has a very active safety watch email group.
- If using social media and talking with your neighbors, keep things in perspective. Crimes can be reported more than once and problems can appear larger than they are.
- If you want to be aware of recent crimes, use the RAIDS reporting system. RAIDS has iPhone app as well. You can also get crime alerts for a determined radius around your home sent to your email address. http://www.raidsonline.com/?address=Lexington,%20KY
- Help make it easier to catch and convict criminals and get your belongings returned by making your items identifiable. The police have had occasions where they stop individuals with a series of items they know where stolen but cannot prove it and they have also had items that they cannot identify the owner to return them.
- Mark your belongings with your phone number. Use a permanent marker or a etching tool ($10 to $15 at hobby shops). This includes tools, furniture, and electronics.
- Make a list of valuable items with manufacturers, makes, and serial numbers. Pawn shops are required to report items taken in by the next day. There is a national database called Leads Online that the police use to report stolen items and that Pawn shops are required to use. Serial numbers of stolen item remain in the database even if the item does not turn up in the system until long after the theft. This list is also useful for home insurance claims if items are stolen.
- Take photos of your jewelry. It does not matter how well you can describe your items, only a photo will positively identify you as the owner unless your name is etched on the item. Bill Farmer recommends using your camera phone outdoors to get a clear picture on a bright, sunny day.
- If you are concerned with the sentences that convicted criminals receive, consider looking into House Bill 463 that reduced the punishments for smaller property crimes and drug offenses. Ray Larson, our District Attorney is not happy with this bill and would like to see it reversed.
For more information on House Bill 463: