St. Bernard Parish residents leaving for an extended period of time or summer vacation can call the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office to request that deputies make extra patrols pass their home while they are away.
“When thinking about the last-minute things you have to do before leaving, remember to call us for extra patrols,” St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann said.
Residents can call (504) 271-2501 to get on a list for the extra patrols.
Sheriff Pohlmann said the information is kept confidential and is revealed only to the officers assigned to patrol the section where the resident lives.
Residents also are advised to leave a contact number with the Sheriff’s Office so a patrol deputy can call them if something happens at their home, Sheriff Pohlmann said, including non crime-related matters such as damage from a wind or rain storm.
“Be careful … with social media. It is foolish to announce to everyone you will be going on a trip. Wait until you return to post photos instead.”
Since St. Bernard has fewer residents than before Hurricane Katrina there are fewer eyes on the streets in some neighborhoods to watch for suspicious activity, Sheriff Pohlmann said.
“That makes signing up for the extra patrols more valuable,’’ the Sheriff said.
Capt. Charles Borchers, head of Community Relations for the Sheriff’s Office, including the Neighborhood Watch program, said the extra pass list has been used effectively for years and helps residents be assured their homes will have some extra protection while they are away.
Borchers said residents should consider the following crime prevention tips before leaving their home for trips:
- Lock up. While this might seem obvious, some people forget to lock their house completely while rushing to get away. Make sure all doors and windows are locked.
- Be careful who you tell that you plan to be away from your home. However, ask someone you trust to watch for anything unusual. Also, never leave a message on a phone voice mail system saying you are out of town because any caller would learn your house may be vulnerable.
- The same is true with social media. It is foolish to announce to everyone you will be going on a trip. Wait until you return to post photos instead.
- Do whatever possible to create the appearance someone is home. Keep a vehicle in the driveway or out front of your residence. Maintain your lawn before you leave or have someone you trust mow your lawn while you are gone.
- Put outdoor lighting on either timers, light-sensitive photocell mechanisms, or motion detectors. Use timers to activate inside lighting, radios, or TVs. Use the fluorescent (cfl) light bulbs because they burn cooler than the standard light bulbs.
- Don’t let deliveries accumulate. If possible, ask someone you know to pick up mail, newspapers, packages and any circulars placed on your front door. Stop delivery of any newspaper if you can so they don’t pile up.
- Don’t leave keys under your doormat, flower pots or window ledges – intruders check these first.
- Keep shrubbery trimmed. Thick shrubbery and trees cover your windows, allowing burglars to work undetected.
- If you have a security system, ensure it is armed and provide instructions to the central monitoring station – if you have one – to call your cell phone, the Sheriff’s Office and/or a particular friend, relative or neighbor if there is a problem.
- If your area has a Neighborhood Watch program inform its officials about your vacation plans.
St. Bernard residents interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch group in their area can call Borchers at (504) 278-7628.