Abilene is blessed to be relatively crime-free. Still, Police Chief Mark Heimer said it is important to take a proactive approach against crime. Top priority: the home.
The police department is offering a new free program, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.
“That is basically target hardening, meaning we make your workplace or your home environment safe by actually adjusting the physical environment,” Heimer said. “We’ll come out and see, ‘Do you have proper lighting? Are your bushes cut down so that you can see out and your neighbors can observe what’s going on? Do you have proper locks on your home or your business?’”
Heimer said he and his officers would be happy to come to people’s houses to complete a safety survey. Afterward, residents receive a written report to help them determine how to make their living environment safer.
The program is available not only to homeowners but also to apartment dwellers. As part of the police department’s new rental unit crime prevention program, Crime Free Housing, the department works with both landlords and tenants.
“We try to make sure that they’re taking that sense of ownership and pride in the property and that they’re making sure they’re controlling who’s going on and off the property,” Heimer said. “We get with them and say, ‘Let’s make this a safer thing and a better relationship between the landlord and the tenant.’”
Kris Kobiskie, community projects officer, said keeping a property well maintained is one of the best ways to guard a house against crime.
“That serves as a psychological deterrent to criminals because it lets them know that people, both at that residence and people in that area, kind of keep an eye on things,” Kobiskie said. “If you’ve got a broken window, fix it. If you let one thing go, you’ll let other things go and pretty soon, things are looking rundown. Those kind of places look attractive to criminals waiting to break in.”
Another aesthetic guard for that applies to houses, apartments and other living environments is to keep on a light or two at the residence, even when leaving for the evening.
“That way, passersby can see what’s going on at your residence and if they witness something, they can call us and let us know about it,” Kobiskie said.