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EUGENE, Ore. -- While many Oregonians are keeping doors and windows closed to keep out the cold, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office instituted a new program aimed at helping keep thieves out as well.
Volunteers working the Home Security Safety Evaluations program visit the homes of those enrolled find potential opportunities burglars often take. The specialists then work with homeowners to make their homes safer.
"Generally speaking, thieves are lazy and they don’t want to get caught. They’re going to go for the easiest target, something that won’t take long to burgle," said Sgt. Steve French.
Sgt. French said there are two reasons why Lane County has some of the highest property crime rates in the nation. First, he says property crimes are largely committed by drug addicts, and Lane county has a high number of addicts. Second, we simply don’t have the jail space.
“We don’t have the ability to hold property crime offenders, which are the fairly low risk offenders for the community," said Sgt. French. "So unfortunately, when we have capacity issues, those offenders are the first ones to go back out into the community.”
Program volunteers like Stephen Bianco said their visits help homeowners understand the vulnerabilities of their homes that often go under his radar.
“There's a lot of simple things that can be done to help improve your house against any kind of burglary. Not that you can prevent a burglary, but it does help deter,” Bianco said.
A lot of the advice is common sense, like closing doors and keeping fences locked, but Bianco said signing up for Lane County's home security/safety inspection could prove to be worth the extra effort.
One thing Bianco was surprised by: garage windows.
"If you have the windows in your garage door, and right behind one of the windows is the rope that releases your garage door ... most of the time those windows are either plastic or plexiglass, all you have to do is reach in pull the string, release the garage door, open it up and you’re in," Bianco said.
The service is free for everyone. It has a sister program in the Eugene Police Department. To schedule an evaluation, you can call (541) 682-4296 or visit their website.