By John Hayne, Asst. Fayette County Attorney
Having prosecuted hundreds of cases in Lexington over the last several years, I can tell you with certainty that thieves are as bold and daring as ever. Consider, for example, the following types of theft occurring in our community. On Saturday afternoon a Lexington family took their children to a local nature trail for a leisurely hike. When they returned to their car, they discovered that thieves had broken the car window and stolen the contents of a purse that was sitting in the front seat. As if the property damage and theft wasn’t bad enough, the thieves read the address on the driver’s license in the purse and drove to the family’s home and committed a burglary.
Copper thefts also continue to be a problem in our community. Thieves have targeted and continue to target subdivisions such as Palomar Hills where homes are likely to have water sprinkler systems. The thieves are causing thousands of dollars worth of property damage by stealing the sprinkler system’s water backflow preventer that is made of copper. The thieves then scrap the copper parts for pennies on the dollar, while the homeowner is left with property damage and a feeling of angst.
Did you realize that at night thieves are walking around our Lexington neighborhoods lifting on car door handles searching for unlocked cars? These individuals are looking for one particular item in your vehicle, your garage door opener. The next day while you are at work, the thieves come back to the residence, open the garage door and burglarize your home. Similarly, on Chinoe Road during broad daylight thieves were walking through backyards going house to house searching for back doors that had been left unlocked while the homeowner was at work.
My experience has been that when thieves steal from your car or your home, they immediately try to sell the items. Thieves will often take the items to local scrap yards and pawn shops. Officers with the Lexington Metro Police Department work diligently and tirelessly investing thefts, checking pawn records and making arrests. However, if you can’t describe with some specificity the type of item stolen, the police can only do so much in trying to recover your property.
It’s important to proactively think about ways that you can protect your property from acts of theft. Following are tips to help prevent theft and assist the police if you become a theft victim:
1. Would you dangle a house key from the visor of your car? Of course not, so why do we place garage door openers on our visors? Consider putting your garage door opener in your center console or glove box.
2. Do you have exposed copper at your house such as a water backflow preventer? Research online how to protect these items from theft and vandalism.
3. Photograph and document all of your jewelry and valuables. Police can more easily locate your items that may have been sold if the police have a photograph of the items as opposed to a simple description such as “gold necklace” or “silver bracelet.”
4. Document serial numbers and product specifications of your electronics. If your television or computer has been stolen and pawned, a serial number can help police specifically identify your property.
5. Do you have Apple products such as an iPhone, iPad and a Mac? If so, immediately activate the “Find My iPhone” feature. On multiple occasions, the Lexington police immediately located items stolen from a residential burglary by following the GPS signal that lead the police directly to the burglar’s location.
6. Install adequate outdoor lighting at your home and always let your neighbors know if you will be out of town. Ask them to periodically check your home for any suspicious activity.
7. If you are working in a public setting such as the local library, Starbucks, Panera, etc. do not leave your possessions unattended. Apple products like an iPhone or iPad are easy to steal and thieves are canvassing these types of places looking for such items. They are calling this “apple picking.”
8. Gather a group of neighbors and form a Neighborhood Watch program. Our office has helped facilitate this in the past and we are always glad to assist.