SPPD Sgt. Fogata offers tips at Oaks Neighborhood Watch meeting
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: February 27, 2013
In reaction to an uptick in crime, the Oaks Neighborhood Watch group met recently at Bedell Elementary School to address concerns and learn better how to protect their property.
“There’s been a lot going on in the Oaks,” said Martha Reynolds Brown, the Neighborhood Watch coordinator, who urged those who are victims of any crime including petty burglary to report them to the police.
“You must call it in,” said Brown, who noted she has learned not all are reporting incidents to the SPPD. Such information is used by the SPPD for statistical purposes and to help them determine areas that should be more heavily patrolled.
Bedell Principal Jeff Robinson said he supports the Neighborhood Watch and wants to work with the community on issues related to student and campus safety, including emergency policies and procedures.
Sgt. Jimmy Fogata, a city native and 26-year SPPD veteran, said he was excited to see so many at the meeting. “You’re probably the most active” Watch group, which Fogata said could also be credited to Brown, who “puts her heart and soul into this.”
The Oaks with is lack of streetlights can be a target or thieves, but an aware resident can make a huge difference. “If you have think about whether or not to call 9-1-1” when something seems out of the ordinary or suspicious, “then it’s too late.”
People should not be embarrassed to call the police, although Fogata noted dispatchers “get a lot of crank calls.... We also get little kids calling” to make sure they know how to summon help. By law police must respond to a hang-up 9-1-1 call by either visiting the address that automatically is shown or attempting to make contact by phone.
Fogata said it is important that those living under the canopy of growth that gives the Oaks its name be particularly watchful of fire. Everyone should have a flashlight handy at all times and be sure that flashlights - and smoke alarms - have functional batteries.
Deadbolts must not have knobs, lighting around homes should be adequate, and brush should be cleared to avoid providing a place for people to hide. Car remote controls are great devices and can be used as an alarm to scare away potential intruders.
“Anything you leave in your car, just leave it on the roof... let them take it,” as items left in vehicles attract car burglaries. Making sure your car is locked is always important, but when it comes to personal possessions - even in a locked vehicle - “you don’t want it leave it in your car.” Make sure garage doors are shut and that all doors to the house are locked; the same for windows.
Information shared on Facebook and other social media should not be too detailed, especially about travel or schedules or other possessions.
With homeless encampments near the Santa Paula Creek, Fogata said Oaks residents must be watchful and make sure their possessions are secured. To make $50 to satisfy a daily need of illegal narcotics, the addict must steal $500 worth of merchandise.
“See an abandoned car?” said Fogata. “Someone may be sleeping in it... report it. These are quality of life issues” that could also impact crime rates.
Fogata emphasized notifying police if something is suspicious is important: “We need your help... if you don’t want to be a rat, you want to be a victim.... Your getting involved is what keeps the community safe.”