If you're looking for some tips to keep your neighborhood safer, check out some advice from Crime Prevention Practitioner Maryanne Hunsberger of the Tampa Police Department:
A purse stolen from a shopping cart, a laptop taken from an unlocked car, a cell phone from a booth in a restaurant while the owner was in the bathroom, and a backpack left unattended at a table in the public library.
These are just a few examples of crimes of opportunity. Crimes that police departments across the nation take reports on every day. It only takes a moment for a dishonest person to seize on an opportunity presented to him or her.
For instance, a dishonest person goes to a popular buffet restaurant for dinner. She is eating dinner, minding her own business when a family comes in and sits at the table next to her. She watches as the mom puts her purse on the seat and throws a coat over it. Then, they all go to the buffet to fill up their plates. The dishonest person did not go out that night looking to steal a purse, but the opportunity presented itself. In a second’s time the “opportunist” grabs the wallet out of the purse and slips it into her own.
Or take the case of “Joe Citizen”. He is a businessman who rides the bus several times a week. Joe sets his briefcase on the floor next to him, then nods off for a little nap after a long days work. The “opportunist” sits nearby or maybe even next to Joe.
When the bus stops at the next stop, the “opportunist” picks up the briefcase like it was his and quickly gets off. Since Joe didn’t have the briefcase in his lap, between his feet, or even just leaning against his leg, he didn’t feel it being taken and did not know it was gone until it was his stop.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, we all need to be vigilant with our belongings at all times. We cannot afford to leave things unattended even for a minute without taking the risk of a theft. You could strap your purse into the shopping cart with the baby seat belt. Try to hook your foot through the loop of a shopping bag while you are sitting on a bench at the mall, and remember to place your backpack between your feet at the movies or a sporting event, so that you can feel it if someone tugs at it.
There are many easy ways to keep an eye on your belongings, but the most important thing you can do is to be aware that these kinds of thefts happen. In our society there are many people looking for ways to get quick money, there are opportunists everywhere.
It takes much less energy to prevent a crime like this than to have to replace items stolen. Be vigilant and remember it could happen to you. Lock your vehicle everyday.
To contact TPD, call 813 354-6692.