Safety tips for businesses, homeowners offered at police convention in Aurora

by mike lesko | Reporter Published:

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER

Aurora -- About 185 police officers statewide converged on the Bertram Inn for three days last week for the 37th annual Ohio Crime Prevention Association convention, which included seminars that offered safety tips for businesses and homeowners.

It took place in Aurora for the first time.

Aurora police officer Vickie Yendriga, president of the association, said there were 18 presentations, more than in previous years.

"We had a lot of very positive feedback from the attendees I was able to talk with," Yendriga said. "There were excellent speakers and a good variety of topics."

The convention featured seminars on all kinds of topics from security door access and an introduction to explosives to how teenagers hide drugs and alcohol from their parents, and first aide for youngsters with autism.

Lee Colegrove, a Strongsville police sergeant, led an April 30 seminar about how police should handle business security surveys. It was filled with solid information that would provide safety tips for business owners.

"When I do my surveys, I pretend I'm a crook," he said. "I think, 'How can I break into that building?'"

Colegrove said there should be sufficient lighting outside a business.

"Are there too many shadows around the building?" he said, showing a photo on a projector of a darkened store exterior. "There could be five people hiding at the side of the building and you'd never see them."

HE SAID there should be "a 2-foot / 6-foot rule" for shrubbery and trees. "Shrubs should be no more than 2 feet tall, and trees should be no more than 6 feet tall," he said. "This creates a clear line of vision for when police are driving by and checking out the building."

Colegrove said in Strongsville, about 70 percent to 80 percent of breaking and entering crimes occur when culprits break windows. "Why try to break down a door when they can climb through a window?" he said.

He recommends security film, which he said prevents rocks and bullets from shattering windows. "If a burglar throws a rock and it bounces back, he'll probably move on," he said.

Colegrove talked about "access control" to a business including the number of keys issued and the number of ex-employees with keys. He suggested two employees opening and closing a store instead of one, adding, "There is safety in numbers."

Colegrove said stores should be aware of the location of sale items. "A store might have expensive shirts right by the door," he said. "It would be easy for someone to take some shirts, walk out of the store without paying, get into a car and drive away."

He urged store owners to lock their safe. "I've heard all the excuses from store owners," he said. "Some say they don't lock it because they can't remember the combination, so they said it's easier to leave it open."

SECURITY camera systems are recommended, he said. "But just because you have one doesn't make it effective," he said, showing examples of photos taken from too far away in which suspects could not be seen very well. "The quality of the picture is important because it can be fuzzy or have lines through it."

He said it's also important to keep photos in the security camera for a sufficient time, adding he has investigated crimes where store owners have told him there were no pictures of a crime because they were only there for 48 hours before being erased.

Another April 30 seminar was about how police should do a home security survey from the outside, which offered safety tips for homeowners. It was led by Walt Peters, a Stark County Jackson Township police officer.

Peters said homeowners should trim their landscaping, saying, "The bushes that provide you with privacy can also give criminals a place to hide."

He advised residents to keep their garage doors closed and locked. "It's amazing how many people don't lock the man door [that leads from the garage] to their house."

Peters said all types of lighting and alarms are available. He demonstrated a sound motion detector, which he said only costs about $8, that makes a loud shrill sound when someone approaches it. He also suggested motion sensor lights.

"Each exterior entrance to a home should be well lighted to prevent a burglar from concealing his activities," he said.

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