On February 10th, over fifty residents of the Steeplechase neighborhood in Kyle met at the Fuentes Elementary cafeteria to show solidarity against escalating crime in the community. The event, led by Peter Parcher, was the largest neighborhood watch gathering Officer James Plant had ever witnessed in his seven years of serving the Kyle PD. Plant, who was the keynote speaker, engaged those in attendance with a passionate speech.
“There’s nothing worse than people taking something that doesn’t belong to them,” said Plant. “Something you worked hard for.”
He laid out some very practical strategies to “harden” homes in the neighborhood.
“The most effective way to catch home burglaries,” he said, “is to photograph everything you have and record the serial number. I’ve caught more crooks by serial number than anything else. There’s millions of TVs, but only one serial number. We take that number and put it into LeadsOnline.com, which is a service used by detectives and pawn shops alike. If you record the serial number and that property is stolen, we have a much better chance of recovering the property and charging someone with, at the least, possession of stolen property.”
I found this to be a pragmatic, almost pessimistic view. My idea of good policing is to storm the house and take down burglars in the act – cuffed, bagged, and tagged. But the truth is, he’s right. Police officers rarely catch criminals in the act. And citizens can assist officers exponentially by collecting real-world practical evidence for detectives to build a case.
“Get good physical descriptions when solicitors knock on your door or when you see something suspicious,” he said. “Trust your instincts. If something feels off, chances are you might be right. Get license plate numbers, take photographs, because that is what’s going to catch the bad guy.”
Plant went on to say, “We have to get out of the mindset that cops won’t do anything about it and it’s a waste of my time. We do have a high call volume in Kyle, but the patrol officer’s job is to take the report. It helps them to track activity. What’s more, when we do finally catch the criminal, we can charge them with all of the reports that match that description. It’s not a waste of your time.”
Plant detailed various strategies for deterring theft, including video monitoring systems, home alarms, shrouded shackle locks on fences, heavy-duty long screws on door jams, and more.
Plant’s final advice of the evening is undoubtedly the hardest for most to follow.
“Get to know your neighbors,” he said. “I’ve talked to neighbors many times who witness burglaries in progress but don’t report it because they don’t know the people who live there and therefore don’t understand if something happening is suspicious.”
The evening concluded with Peter Parcher taking votes to elect officers into the newly formed Steeplechase Neighborhood Watch Association. John Atkins was elected to the chair, and positions were also filled for secretary, reporter, and finance director. Folks volunteered to be block captains, future meetings were scheduled, and plans were put in place for the installation of up to 27 signs in the community, with free labor from Kyle’s public works department.
I am amazed at the citizens of Kyle. We live in trying times, to be sure. But this meeting was a testament to what can be accomplished when enough people get together in unison for a good cause.