Community members often use the term robbery when referring to a burglary that has happened in the neighborhood. Although both crimes may leave a resident feeling fearful and unsafe in their home, the two terms are very different.
A robbery is a theft by coercion. The robber steals by using physical force, which may include a weapon, or the threat of force. The willingness to confront the victim makes it a more severe crime. Fortunately, residential robberies are not frequent.
A burglar tends to target homes where the resident does not appear to be home and their activities cannot be seen by neighbors. They generally do not want a confrontation or to risk being identified. Many burglaries happen during the day when residents are at work or school.
We offer a Home Security Checklist that provides many tips on making your home more secure. The following crime prevention strategies can help you customize the checklist for your needs:
- Make it appear as though someone is home when you’re at work or on vacation.
- Improve visibility to your home so neighbors and passerbys can observe activities on your property. That way they can more easily spot suspicious activity if it should occur.
- Vegetation, exterior lighting, fencing and other structures can block sightlines. Most importantly, where access points to your home – doors, windows and gate--are concealed, a burglar can break in and no one will be able to see them.
- Target harden your home. This access control strategy is what comes to mind when we think about crime prevention – installing sturdy primary and secondary locks on doors, windows and gates. It can also include removing tools and ladders from your yard so they cannot be used to break in.
- Install camera surveillance and alarm systems. The ability to verify an alarm notification through real-time video footage can be a deterrent. The system should be used in addition to and not in lieu of crime prevention strategies.
- Remove valuables from public view. A burglar may target a home anyway, but may be more motivated after seeing what is available in the home.
- Hide valuables. If a burglar breaks in, their time in the home is limited and they typically will go to the master bedroom and office for valuables. Choosing places that they won’t think to look can reduce losses.
- Get to know your neighbors and watch out for each other. You will know the routines of the neighborhood and will be more able to identify suspicious activity.
For suspicious activity, call:
- When determining what is suspicious, please focus on activity and behaviors, not people. Please do not assume criminal behavior or ill-intent based on race or ethnicity. We want police services to be appropriately used in ways that are not harmful to community members.
- 9-1-1 for immediate threats to life or property and crimes in progress
- 503-629-0111 for timely police response to non-emergencies
Why Visible Addresses Matter
Police, fire and emergency medical responders cannot help you unless they can find your address. In an emergency, every second counts.
Look at your address from the street. Will first responders be able to see your home address during the day? How about at night? Determine whether:
- The numbers are large and clear enough to be seen from the street.
- There is enough of a contrast between the color of your numbers and the background so that they stand out.
- Landscaping or other structures are blocking the view of the numbers.
- The address plate needs to be repositioned near lighting to improve their visibility.
If we can find you, we can help you.
Package theft is a constant in our community, but typically increases during the holidays as deliveries ramp up.
Some steps residents can take to prevent package theft:
- Pick up packages at the carrier or retailer.
- Choose the option to sign for deliveries.
- Ship packages to a locker where possible.
- Track packages and ship them to a location where they can be securely received when they arrive.
- Hold off on deliveries until you return from vacation.
- Report crime and suspicious activity in your neighborhood such as someone stealing a package or trailing a delivery truck by bike or car.
- Call 9-1-1 for immediate threats to life or property or crimes in progress.
- If it is not an immediate threat, contact the police non-emergency number at 503-629-0111. When in doubt, start with 9-1-1.
Although camera surveillance is beneficial to home security, it doesn't always deter package thieves.
To prevent mail theft:
- Choose a sturdy locked mailbox.
- Remove your mail promptly after it is delivered.
- Don't leave outgoing mail in your unlocked mailbox. Deposit during mail collection hours at a post office drop box.
Sign up for Informed Delivery through the USPS, which allows residents to digitally preview the mail planned for delivery. Click here to register.
Choose paperless options for documents containing sensitive info.
If you plan to go out of town, place your mail on hold at www.usps.com.
- If someone appears to be tampering with a mailbox, call the police.
If your mail has been stolen:
- File a police report by calling 503-629-0111 (Washington County incidents). If there is no suspect info, you may meet the criteria for filing an online report for incidents occurring in Tigard.
- Report mail theft to the United States Postal Inspector in addition to filing a police report.
Car Prowls (Theft from Vehicles)
Car prowls are consistently one of the top crimes in Tigard.
Prowlers typically target cars that have valuables in them. What may not be considered valuable to the owner, such as coins in a cup holder, may motivate a thief to break in.
Thefts from vehicles can lead to other crimes. If the thief steals a garage door opener, they may commit a burglary. The theft of sensitive documents i.e. passports, credit cards and statements may lead to identity theft. They may be able to steal a car because the remote is left in the vehicle.
Prowlers get into vehicles by opening an unlocked door, breaking a window or tampering with a lock. In some cases, they may be able to hack into newer vehicles that have proximity keys.
Please do what you can to prevent vehicle break ins and thefts:
- Lock up!
- Remove valuables from your vehicle. Thieves break into cars for anything that might be valuable. Shopping bags and gym bags are often targeted since they may contain items such as electronics or merchandise.
- Hide accessories for mobile phones and other devices.
- Remove documents containing personal information, garage door openers, car keys and other items that can make you vulnerable to other crimes.
- Park in the garage or a well-lit and well-traveled area to increase the chances that you or your neighbors can observe activity around your car.
- If your car has a keyless entry and starter, place your key fob in a faraday bag (RFID blocking) to prevent a thief from gaining entry by hacking.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. If you observe someone looking into vehicles and/or checking car handles; immediately report the suspicious activity to the police.
- Call 9-1-1 for immediate threats to life or property or crimes in progress.
- If it is not an immediate threat, you can call the police non-emergency number at 503-629-0111.
- File a police report by calling the non-emergency number or filing online (if it meets the criteria) at https://tigard-or.gov/report-a-crime
Catalytic Converter Theft
Although theft of car parts, such as a license plate or car wheels,
is not uncommon, catalytic converter theft frequently increases as metal prices rise.
Priuses, vans, trucks and SUVs are among the vehicles targeted with many of the thefts occurring at night.
When a catalytic converter is stolen, victims will hear a loud rumbling sound when they start their vehicle.
To prevent catalytic converter theft, consider one or more of the following tips:
- Park vehicles in a garage
- If you don’t have a secure garage, park in well-lit and well-travelled areas, ideally with camera surveillance.
- Avoid parking in unattended lots for extended periods of time.
- Secure your catalytic converter with a strap, lock, cage or bolts. Research your options.
- Engrave your license plate or VIN number on the converter, so that it can be identified to you if recovered.
- Look out of your front window if you hear unusual noises outside. There are times when victims heard something but dismissed what was happening.
- Call in suspicious activity to the police. For immediate threats to life or property, or crimes in progress, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, you can contact the non-emergency number at 503-629-0111.
If you are a victim of theft, report the incident by calling the police non-emergency number at 503-629-0111 or file online here. (Please read the criteria before completing an online report.)
Car thieves may steal a vehicle to commit other crimes such as car prowls, use for transportation or to sell. Stolen cars may also be stripped and sold for their parts.
Thieves may break into a car by entering through an unlocked door, breaking a window or using wedges and other tools. At times, a thief may prowl a car for the contents, but finds a key left in the vehicle.
Certain model cars manufactured in the 1980s and 1990s are popular targets because thieves can open and operate the car using duplicate and ground-down keys.
More recently, some thieves have been able to hack keyless entry and start systems.
As significant percentage of car stolen are recovered.
- Do not leave your car idling even for a a few minutes.
- Lock doors, windows and the sunroof. Check your door handle to ensure that it is locked.
- Activate your vehicle security alarm.
- Do not leave spare keys or key fobs in your car. Thieves also break in for:
- Garage door openers
- Chargers, accessories for electronic devices
- Gym bags-that may have valuables in them
- Credit cards
- Personal info
- Park in a locked garage when possible. If not, choose a well-lit, well-traveled place visible to you and neighbors at home and to passersby in public.
- If you have a key fob or proximity key, place it in a Faraday bag or cage (RFID-blocking) when you leave your car to thwart hacking.
- Do your research and invest in after-market security devices such as steering wheel locks, alarms, immobilizers, biometric identifiers or GPS tracking systems.
What You Can Do About Bike Theft
“When it’s inconvenient and takes time to steal your property, you’re less vulnerable to theft. The longer it takes, the more likely a thief will move on,” says Officer Brian Orth, a member of Tigard Police’s bike patrol team. This advice is useful for preventing bike theft, a crime that rises dramatically during warm-weather months.
In summer, Tigard Police respond to a significant number of thefts involving unlocked bicycles taken from the sides of homes, porches, open garages or public places. Officer Orth stopped a man who admitted to “borrowing” the bike he was riding after he found it unlocked and parked at the library. Fortunately, Orth was able to intervene and return it to the owner.
Any lock will help, but quality matters. Bike thieves are crafty and can defeat locks that are easily cut, picked, or pried open. Some of the basic prevention tips include:
- Choosing sturdy locks such as a U-lock; cable locks shouldn’t be used as a primary lock.
- Securing your bike to a strong, firmly rooted rack or fixture meant for bikes.
- Locking your bike tires to the frame and bike rack.
- Taking all removable parts, including the seat, with you or locking them up.
- Parking your bike in a well-lit and visible location where there is a lot of foot traffic.
- Documenting your serial number to improve the chances of recovery if stolen.
The best way to recover a stolen bicycle is to file a police report, providing accompanying photos and serial numbers for the vehicle. “If you flip the bike over, the serial numbers are on the crank shaft area. Take a picture of it or write it down,” says Orth. If you don’t have a serial number, unique features, such as stickers, handlebars, custom parts, or scratches, can help the police identify your bicycle if it’s recovered.
Some bikers sign up with private bike registration companies to keep their serial numbers and photos on file in case they are needed. Two companies that serve our area:
If a bike is stolen, the registries broadcast the information over their networks. Users can also input a serial number to verify whether a bike is stolen, which has led to some recoveries by community members.
Officer Orth recently took a report from a resident whose bike was stolen out of an open garage. Because the victim provided his serial number on the police report, the information was timely entered into a regional and national law enforcement database. A pawnshop entered the serial number into a database that alerted the police that someone was attempting to pawn the stolen bike. Ultimately, the victim got his bike back!
Officer Orth values crime prevention and encourages neighbors to be mindful of locking up bikes, tools, doors, and windows this summer. He also asks neighbors to look out for each other. Where possible—in between calls to 9-1-1 and the non-emergency number—he tries to proactively patrol neighborhoods to keep a watch out as well.
Tigard Police hear from a lot of community members whose personal information has been compromised. Some of the ways they learn their personal information has been used:
- Debt collectors call about loans or credit cards they haven’t applied for
- The IRS notifies them that a refund has already been filed in their name when they send in their taxes
- A charge shows up on their insurance bill for a medical procedure they never received
- There are unusual debits that show up on their bank statement
- Bills are not showing up on time
Identity thieves steal personal information through:
- Obtaining paper documents containing sensitive information in the trash, car prowls or other methods
- Hacking into accounts with weak passwords
- Purchasing data obtained in data security breaches on the dark web
- Successfully phishing through email, text or phone calls
- Obtaining information through skimming
- Setting up fake companies that appear legitimate
If your personal information hasn’t been compromised, please be proactive given the volume of data security breaches over the last few years.
Some ways to protect yourself:
- Review your bank and credit card transactions carefully and often. Immediately look into suspicious charges on your accounts.
- Cross-shred any documents containing sensitive information. you can participate in Shred Events coordinated by police departments. Picture attached.
- Use long, hard-to-guess passphrases for your accounts that include numbers and special characters. Do not recycle passwords or use the same passphrase on multiple accounts.
- Check your free credit reports annually to ensure that no one has taken out a loan in your name. Find out more here.
- Freeze your credit reports OR use a credit monitoring service. Freeze your children’s credit reports, since id thieves target minors information, knowing their credit will not be monitored until they need a loan much later in life.
- Do not provide personal information in response to unsolicited phone calls, emails, social media DMs or text messages.
- Install the latest software updates on your electronic devices, especially the ones with security patches.
- Don’t use debit cards online and limit your use of checks since they contain your bank account information.
- Use a VPN.
- File tax returns early.
- Don’t use ATMs or card reader machines that are not actively monitored e.g. an ATM located outside of a building.
Reduce Your Junk Mail
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