Police and apartment managers unite to protect area residences

ACTION is an acronym for Apartments & Communities Together In Our Neighborhood. COP is Community Oriented Policing. Together, they add up to safer apartment complexes, public safety officials said.

Sgt. Trish Cervantes of the Metropolitan Police Department took over the COP squad at the end of November and spoke at a monthly ACTION meeting with apartment managers Jan. 17 at the Desert Breeze Community Center, 8275 Spring Mountain Road.

She urged them to listen to their instincts and contact police if anything looked out of the ordinary - a loiterer, a slow car circling their complex.

"Please, please, call 311 don't hold onto the information. Let us know immediately because that's the only way we're going to be able to respond in a timely manner," Cervantes said.

The police rely on apartment managers to get that mindset across to apartment dwellers and relay suspicions to police, not the complex office.

It's part of the See Something, Say Something program . It buttresses the Neighborhood Watch initiative and reassures people about reporting tips.

"Nosey neighbors can be a pain in the butt, but when it comes to (reporting crime), nosey neighbors are the kind I like," officer Mona Miller said.

Property managers like staying abreast of illegal incidents.

"We like to keep up with what's going on, as far as burglaries, break-ins, things like that," said Amber George, assistant manager for Oasis Sierra and Oasis Crossings . "We see what we can do to help our residents. They (Metro) give us fliers and we distribute those, as well."

She said there was not a lot of crime on either complex but that the neighborhood was experiencing the opposite .

Raj Sarin is the security director for America's Best Security Services and deals with most of the property managers.

"They need to be updated as far as the burglaries and what happens on the property, so, as far as security is concerned, it brings us together," Sarin said. "These meetings, they help us to take preventative measures."

The top three problems the Metropolitan Police Department sees at apartment complexes, Cervantes said, are burglaries, breaking into cars and stealing vehicles.

Complexes can sign up for the IDL program, which stands for Identify, Detect and Locate. It warns would-be tenants that the complex sends applicants' information to police to check for outstanding warrants .

Beth Choat had a sample of an IDL notice and said just posting it was a deterrent. "I can guarantee you, they will turn on their heels, walk away and not want to be (a part of) your property," Choat said.

Last year, Section A4 was targeted by the Metropolitan Police Department to discourage crime at complexes. A4 area covers Valley View Boulevard to Decatur Boulevard and Spring Mountain Road to Flamingo Road, encompassing thousands of apartments. In one year , violent crimes and burglaries decreased by 20 percent each.

Crimes committed by a tenant within his own complex are not prevalent but when it occurs, it's usually a youngster who has no means of transportation, Cervantes said.

Officer Mona Miller discussed property crime at apartments and the importance of recording serial numbers on items of value, such as cameras, flat-screen TVs and game players.

Leads Online, leadsonline.com, stores those serial numbers for police should there be a burglary. The service is free. Using it can make a difference with one's claim. "With the economy the way it is, there's a lot of false reporting so they can get insurance money," Miller said of the need for documentation.

Another easy way to document one's valuables is using a digital camera. Take two photos of the item - one of the front and one of the serial number on the back. Download the pictures on a flash drive or similar device and keep it somewhere off the property. For jewelry, Miller said, photos and written descriptions help differentiate an item. If something is engraved, make a note of it. Miller suggested giving your phone number to a neighbor should a burglary occur while you're out of town. Why? Police cannot enter a residence without your permission.

When the police respond to a call after apartment complex offices' business hours, a red card is filled out by officers. They write a short description of what happened and assign it an event number, then slip it through the mail slot for the managers to find the next morning.

Installing wrought-iron doors at a dwelling is effective, Cervantes said . Thieves would need to carry tools to obtain entry, and they would make noise and it would take too long.

"Crooks are going to look for the easiest way in and out, especially at an apartment complex because there are so many people about," Cervantes said. "They're very, very effective."

Entry gates barring access to a complex can be a deterrent but not 100 percent effective, Cervantes said.

"If a bad guy wants to get in, they're going to jump over a wall. They're going to follow somebody in," she said.

The North Las Vegas Police Department has a program that seeks to deter crime at apartment complexes. Chrissie Coon, the department's public information officer, said burglars "are going to gravitate to the apartment where the door isn't that visible, not the one at the front of the complex, out of the eyesight of the majority of the community."

Similarly, Henderson police said they have had the Crime Free Multi Housing program in place for many years. The program fosters partnerships with apartment complexes to thwart crime. Though no statistics are kept, it's seen as a successful program in tamping down crime. Like the Metropolitan Police Department's program, it asks apartment dwellers to be public safety officials' eyes and ears.

"One thing that's definitely important is to have the residents of your city behind you because there's just no way a police department can solve crime on its own," said Keith Paul, public information officer for the Henderson Police Department. "Police need the help of all of the residents."

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.


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