Hinesville Rotary Club members heard some hard facts about burglaries during Tuesday’s lunch meeting, where Hinesville Police Officer James Williams told the group that HPD has investigated 42 burglaries since Jan. 1.
These break-ins represent residential and commercial properties, he said.
Williams, a Desert Storm veteran who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees, started working for HPD in 2006. He began his discussion by defining burglary then explaining the four types of burglaries — complete, forced entry, unlawful entry without force and attempted forced entry.
“It only takes a burglar 13 seconds to enter your house,” Williams said. “It only takes about 10 minutes for him to get your stuff and get out of your house.”
Williams said home-security systems are a good investment but also recommended cheaper, simpler solutions that are just as effective. He said outside motion-detector lighting is a good way to discourage burglars. Lights and televisions set on a timer are good ideas, too. He admitted that security cameras may be costly, but they’re helpful in catching burglary suspects.
He said joining or starting a neighborhood-watch group is a great idea, because burglars are less likely to hit a neighborhood where they know neighbors are watching out for each other.
“The police department will work with local (neighborhood watch) groups,” Williams said. “They’re helpful even if it’s just to relay concerns about suspicious people to local police. Let me say this, though, if you’re a watch volunteer, do not — I repeat — do not get into a confrontation with a suspicious person.”
Other ways residents can protect themselves against burglars include not allowing newspapers and mail to pile up in the driveway or mailbox. He suggests those going out of town stop newspaper and mail delivery. Have a neighbor move the car around in the driveway to give the appearance someone is home, he said. He advised anyone who buys expensive, large electronics to cut up the boxes they come in and put the pieces in large, black garbage bags. Never leave the boxes on the side of the road by the trash can, he said.
Williams said burglaries occur throughout the day, though most burglaries tend to take place while most people are at work and during the summer, when unsupervised youths are looking for something to do.
He concluded his briefing and slide presentation on burglaries, and then talked about other safety concerns for families, including sex offenders. He advised Rotarians to go to Coastal Courier's link to www.familywatchdog.com to find out if there are any sex offenders in their neighborhoods. When he visited the website, he discovered he had a sex offender living next door, which prompted him to move.
Williams was asked about common traffic violations in the city. While admitting he was not a traffic cop, he told Rotarian that driving in the center lane, which is supposed to be a turning lane, was not only a serious issue, it was his pet peeve.
Another member asked if there was a law or ordinance that restricted large vehicles from driving in the left lane. Williams confirmed that big trucks and other large vehicles are supposed to remain in the right lane and said those who block traffic in the left lane cause a lot of frustration for other motorists. Another member then quipped that it was frustrating enough to make motorists drive in the center lane.
Tuesday’s meeting was clearly more fun than businesslike for Rotary members, who exchanged quips with interim sergeant-at-arms Michelle Ricketson and each other. Ricketson reminded members about a March 8 Rotary initiative to mark storm drains. The event will be followed by a members cookout at Bryant Commons.
Brigitte Shanken reminded members about a celebrity bartending fundraiser for the Red Cross on Monday at the LaQuinta Inn. George Holtzman told members that Rotary held a successful class on first-time home buying for Fort Stewart’s Female to Female mentoring program on Feb. 21.