Protect your home, family from crime this summer

Summer can be a prime time for crimes and the Police Department wants residents to be conscious and prepared for the most common offenses.
June 30, 2014

DEARBORN —Summer can be a prime time for crimes and the Police Department wants residents to be conscious and prepared for the most common offenses.

Officers spoke with parents and community members last month at Oakman Elementary School for a special Community Awareness Meeting.

“We put these together on an as-needed basis,” said Mary Petlichkoff, president of the Dearborn Federation of Neighborhood Associations and president of the Oakman Grove Neighborhood Association. “We had some questions from the parents of this neighborhood recently.”

She said parents were concerned in light of children being outside more because of the start of summer break and residents leaving their homes for vacation.

Cpl. Dan Bartok stressed to those in attendance at the meeting that most crimes can be easily prevented.

“The bad guy possesses the desire and the ability to commit that crime (in the easiest way),” he said. “They're going to look for those cars that are unlocked.”

The goal, he said, is to limit the opportunity for an incident to occur.

“We want to make it difficult (for criminals) so hopefully they move out of the city entirely,” he said.

Beware of home repair scams

Scam trends to watch out for particularly in the warmer months are those relating to home repairs.

“They convince you that you need some things repaired in your house,” Bartok said.

He said these scammers will target senior citizens and women. He said to note that reputable repair companies will give you a quote before doing any work, and homeowners should also always pay with a check or money order and never with cash so the payment can be tracked and canceled if needed.

Bartok also said homeowners should be aware of free inspections and for inspectors who come in groups of three where one asks to use the restroom while the other two talk to the resident. He said the third “inspector” usually heads straight for the master bedroom to look for items to steal.

“You may not realize something was taken until hours later,” he said.

Tips from Dearborn Police to avoid getting scammed include:
Always get several estimates for every repair job and compare prices and terms.

  • Ask if there is a charge or for an estimate before agreeing to the repair.
  • Know your salesperson’s name and company name.
  • Ask the firm for references and check them out.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to check the company’s reputation.

Give the appearance that someone is home

Criminals will also select homes that appear to be easy targets. Bartok said residents should lock doors and windows even when they’re home and keep lights and TVs or radios on a timer when away.

“It gives the appearance that someone is home,” he said.

Bartok said Dearborn residents are fortunate because the Police Department still has a vacation house-check program in which police reserve officers will voluntarily check up homes of owners gone on vacation, a program he said most cities no longer offer. A simple call to the Department can get that set up.

He said it is often the simple things that will protect your home and family from becoming the victims of crime.

“A lot of our garage larcenies are from garages that have been left open or unlocked,” he said.

Vehicle larcenies and thefts are another avoidable crime. Residents should follow these easy steps from Dearborn Police to protect their vehicles:

  • Keep windows closed when parked and unattended.
  • Keep doors locked at all times.
  • Do not leave any valuables inside the vehicle like GPS units, or their mounts, money, phones, etc.
  • Park vehicles in the garage or driveway whenever possible.
  • Never leave personal information, like the vehicle title, in the vehicle.
  • Do not leave garage door openers in the vehicle.
  • Turn wheels toward the curb and apply the parking brake when parking on the street to make it difficult for it to be towed or pushed.

“In Dearborn, we have seen a lot of cars stolen while they were left running unattended,” Bartok said.

He said people will turn on their cars with the air conditioning to cool them down before getting in. That should always be avoided, he said, and residents can be ticketed for it.

Contact police, no matter what

Dearborn residents who see anything suspicious they would like to report can call the Police Department’s anonymous tip line, which transmits directly to dispatch, 24 hours a day at 313-943-3030.

Bartok said anyone with tips is never bothering the Department.

“We would prefer to come and find out that nothing is wrong,” he said.

In case of a call of suspicious activity or an emergency, Bartok said one factor could be the difference between life and death.

It’s the visibility of a home’s street address, he said.

An officer or emergency responder needs to find the home quickly but may have trouble if the address can’t be seen from the street. Those few minutes could turn an emergency into a tragedy, he said.

Residents can stay updated on public safety in the city by signing up for Nixle alerts, which includes messages on crime alerts, missing people, wanted suspects, road closures, severe weather and more. Text 48126 to the number 888777 or go to to begin receiving the free service.

Bartok said the Dearborn Police Department conducts about 75 similar community meetings during the year, and officers will meet with residents no matter the group’s size. Request a community meeting by calling him at 313-943-3092.