PARKERSBURG - Saturday was the first day of summer and residents are cautioned warmer weather might bring an increase in criminal activity, law enforcement officials said.
Warmer weather allows criminals with a better opportunity to travel on foot and on bicycles, allowing them greater access to more areas, said Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin.
Criminal activity is never predictable, with poor weather conditions serving to deter crime as much as warmer temperatures seem to make them rise, Martin said. However, thefts from motor vehicles noticeably increase when the temperatures rise, he said.
"Individuals will travel through certain neighborhoods in an attempt to locate an easy target," Martin said.
Large parking lots are often targeted for motor vehicle break-ins, Martin said. Most thieves are looking for property left unattended, he said.
To deter criminals, residents are cautioned not to leave valuables in plain sight in the vehicle, Martin said. If valuables must be left in the vehicle, make certain they are out of sight, such as under other items or locking them inside the trunk, he said.
The vehicle also should be parked in a well-lit area, Martin said. The presence of lights and other people will deter criminals for fear of being seen committing the crime, he said.
Otherwise, homeowners should protect their homes from burglaries by concentrating on protecting the easiest ways to enter it, Martin said. Doors and windows should be locked securely, using reliable locks. Sliding glass doors should be reinforced with wooden rods or poles along the door track to prevent the door from opening altogether, he said.
After the obvious points of entry have been secured, the homeowner can increase the security of their home by adding alarms and cameras systems, Martin said.
The cost associated with adding these systems to the home will pay off in emergency situations.
If a home is going to be unoccupied for a long period of time, homeowners should employ the help of neighbors to check on the home while they are away, Martin said. Trusted neighbors should always be given an emergency key in case an emergency arises and officials need to make entry into the home, he said.