Christian County Sheriff-elect Tyler DeArmond visited Oak Grove Thursday evening to give the community some security pointers ahead of the holiday season.

At a regular meeting of the neighborhood watch at the community center, DeArmond gave an informal presentation to the group using his 14-plus years of experience of police work.

Before beginning, he said he was excited to take up his new duties as sheriff and to work with the Oak Grove Police Department.

“I look forward to this new experience coming up because I’ve worked with several of the guys at Oak Grove Police Department for numerous years,” he said. “We should be able to work very well together, and hopefully piggyback off each other and try to build a better relationship between us.”

A summary of the tips DeArmond and watch co-leader Richard Lestienne gave:

  •  You do not have to be on vacation to have an extra watch put on your house. Those within Oak Grove may call OGPD’s dispatch, while those outside city limits should call the sheriff’s department dispatch. Either entity will have an extra watch placed on your house for any reason.

“I could venture to guess that this time of year, much like many places, your property crimes are going up,” DeArmond said. “Because of the holiday season, I know that kind of sounds ridiculous but people do try to supply for their families off of the benefit of your family.”

  •  With door-to-door solicitations, be cautious. If there is any doubt, or you think they might be scammers, it’s OK to call the police.

“I’m not trying to overbear people and concern people and especially overwhelm the police department here … I might because I don’t have to respond. No, I’m joking,” he said.

  •  Never, under any circumstances, give out personal information over the phone. No bank is going to call and ask for that information. No government agency is going to call you and ask for that information. If the police are going to arrest you, you will not be called first, DeArmond said, you’ll find out your under arrest when they come to your house. You will never be threatened over the phone.
  •  Without a remote-start system, the future sheriff told the watch that anyone who leaves their vehicle unlocked while leaving the engine running to warm the inside is asking to have it stolen. In fact, the vast majority (more than 90 percent) of auto thefts, or thefts of valuables from inside a car, happen without any forced entry. Lock your car doors.

“We talk to groups all the time about locking your cars and they still leave their purses, their cellphones, money, guns, weapons, everything in their cars,” he said. “Very seldom do have someone that busts out a window to steal your valuables.”

  •  The more lights the better. Lights outside your home deter criminals who find it easier to operate in the darkness.
  •  Pay attention when you see a suspicious person, you may be asked to describe them later. Hats, shoes, other articles of clothing, any tattoos you can see, may all be helpful to police.
  •  If you have a home security system, you can help make your neighborhood safer by facing a camera toward the road. If someone steals something from your neighbor, DeArmond said, your camera may catch the perpetrator’s vehicle as they flee the scene. If you don’t have a home security system, get one, cameras are some of the best tools to help police solve crimes.
  •  Encourage others to join a neighborhood watch. The more people meeting and sharing information, reporting suspicious activity, the better. Oftentimes, police are busy on calls and don’t have time to be proactive around neighborhoods, he said, so the community’s participation helps increase its safety.
  •  Thefts from autos usually happen at night, but home burglaries usually happen during the day. If you know someone who can check on your house, utilize them.
  •  Don’t be patterned. Dedicated criminals will study your daily routine before making a move. If it varies, you’re harder to keep track of, and it’s harder to know where you are and how long you’ll be gone.
  •  Write down or take pictures of serial numbers. If your items are stolen, there’s a good chance they’re going to a pawn shop or will resurface at some point, but they only way for them to be identified as yours is with a serial number.

OGPD Detective James Carter also attended the meeting, and gave some Oak Grove-specific crime data.

“Our biggest thing is we have transient crimes because a lot of people come and go from Oak Grove. Car thefts, 9 times out of 10 the car is unlocked, and the people swear it’s locked,” he said. “Burglaries, ours really rise right after Christmas when everybody places a box outside.”

OGPD does canvasses, but usually no one will report having saw anything following a reported crime, he said, adding that he is the only detective the department has currently, and has about 800 cases a year.

“Shoplifting is pretty steady here. It doesn’t really go up or down, it’s just pretty steady,” he said. “A lot of my cases are solved, believe it or not, from tips in Clarksville. I don’t really get any tips from the neighborhood watch here. Most of mine come from Clarksville.”

He said a suspicious act where people left flowers at random doorsteps throughout the town never came to the police department, but several people posted it on Facebook. Do not assume the police saw something just because it was posted to social media.

Following the meeting, ex-sheriff candidate Chuck Inman presented DeArmond with a sheriff’s badge made of gunmetal. Lestienne hosted a raffle for a dash cam donated “anonymously by (city council member) Janet Edwards.”

JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post. Reach him at jjones@kentuckynewera.com or 270-887-3239.

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