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Grayson residents get “schooled” in burglary prevention

Grayson residents get “schooled” in burglary prevention
By Carole Townsend
Staff Correspondent

GRAYSON -  The Gwinnett County Police Department’ South Precinct, which includes much of the city of Grayson, has a resource in its arsenal, an officer who was tailor-made for his job.

Officer Kevin Martinez, the precinct’s Crime Prevention Officer, talks to homeowners and business owners about crime prevention, and he does it with knowledge, experience, and a subtle sense of humor that puts his audience at ease and keeps them listening.

20150923 192803 resized190Left: Officer Kevin Martinez

On Wednesday evening, September 23rd, at the Grayson senior center, Martinez talked to mayor Allison Wilkerson and a group of citizens about burglary prevention, offering common sense tips about securing doors and windows, and even about landscaping and outdoor lighting. He encouraged neighbors to get to know each other, since information sharing within neighborhoods goes a long way toward warding off crime. “If all you know is the mailman, that’s not good. Neighbors need to know one another and talk to each other,” said Martinez. “That’s how you know what to look out for. If someone else has seen something suspicious, you need to know about it.”

20150923 190341 resized190Right: Mayor Allison Wilkerson

Perhaps the most useful tip that Martinez offered Wednesday was the fact that he and the department’s other Crime Prevention Officers are available for free home inspections simply by invitation. Whether a single homeowner or a group of them wants an officer to evaluate their homes with an eye toward crime prevention, they will be there to do it. If a group of homeowners wants an officer to come and talk to them about burglary prevention, or even gang and drug-related crime, they will do it.  That is part of their job. Every precinct in Gwinnett County has a Crime Prevention Officer, and they are all available to their communities as the same valuable resource. Martinez  talked about how communities can become C.O.P.S.  (Community Oriented Police Service) neighborhoods, a valuable community distinction and crime prevention tool. 

Martinez’s opening remarks with respect to burglary referred to a precept held dear in the United States. “I’m from New York. I was a police officer up there for two years before I moved to Georgia (Martinez has been a Gwinnett County officer for 5 years). Even in New York, where you can expect to be robbed on the street, it’s a different matter when someone breaks into your house. In this country, your home is your castle, and how dare someone come into your home to take your belongings that you worked hard for.”    

20150923 191800 resized190Reminding the audience that criminals don’t want to work, he admonished homeowners to make it difficult for them to gain entry into their homes. Surprisingly, it is too often very easy for criminals to break in; on average, it takes a burglar about 60 seconds to break into a house. Martinez reminded the group that even an attempt to break into a home or car is a felony and should be reported. “Don’t be naïve or in denial. Be proactive in preventing these crimes. Left: Major Jesse Jones

Another interesting fact that Martinez offered: when teens are the burglars, they are typically looking for laptops, cell phones, alcohol and prescription drugs. Upstairs, they tend to look through dresser drawers to look for items that homeowners typically hide in such places, such as valuables and guns.

Major Jesse Jones, Martinez’s supervisor, told Wednesday’s audience that Grayson has a remarkably low crime rate with respect to Part 1 crimes (Part 1 crimes are the most serious, and the category is designated for FBI reporting).  Jones attributed this fact to what he referred to as the “smart growth” the city has pursued, as well as his department’s close working relationship with Wilkerson and the city. “Communication is critical, and we work closely with the city to patrol and to respond quickly when there is a problem,” Jones said.

Obviously passionate and savvy with respect to preventing crime, Martinez summed up an informative and entertaining address by stressing the importance of education and communication in warding off crime. “We tend to want to believe that, if we don’t talk about it, then it’s not happening. Criminals count on that.” 

Crime prevention information

Visit the Gwinnett County Police Department website to read several useful crime prevention tips for homes and businesses:

Email your Crime Prevention Officer to schedule a home, business or community crime prevention inspection/information session:

South Precinct (Lawrenceville Highway from Harmony Grove Road to the City of Lawrenceville, along GraysonHighway, and to the Walton County line:

North Precinct (Buford, Sugar Hill, and Rest Haven, as well as the unincorporated Suwanee and Lawrenceville areas): 

West Precinct (Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Lilburn and part of Tucker: 

East Precinct (Dacula, as well as unincorporated areas of Auburn, Loganville, Lawrenceville, Suwanee, and a portion of Grayson):