This is the text of the remarks I made during Council member comments at the January 11, 2016 public meeting.
Last Wednesday evening Chief Rothaus and his staff did an excellent presentation on residential burglaries in San Carlos. I’d guess a couple of hundred residents attended. I urge everyone who couldn’t make it to watch the presentation, either on the local government cable/satellite channels or via the City’s website (http://www.cityofsancarlos.org/depts/pd/press/default.asp).
It’s natural to feel threatened when you hear a friend or neighbor has been burglarized. After all, we want to feel safe in our homes. Nowadays, thanks to social media, we can all learn about every home burglary in San Carlos, almost immediately, something which would’ve been impossible just a few years ago.
There have always been home burglaries, and, unfortunately, likely always will be. As the Chief explained, while 2015 saw more than the immediately preceding couple of years, there have been other years, within recent memory, which saw a similar number of break-ins.
That doesn’t mean we should shrug our shoulders and take no action. But it’s important to realize this has happened before. If you felt reasonably safe in San Carlos during that time, then you should not feel unsafe today.
Not overreacting is important, because there are those among us who, perhaps out of lack of experience, or because of how they view the world, will go to great lengths to try to scare us. Fear is infectious, it spreads rapidly, and it leads to bad decisions…if we choose to let it. So let’s not.
Instead, let’s get answers to our questions. Find out what has been done, and is being done, by law enforcement to deal with home burglaries. Take the time to understand why law enforcement does certain things and not others. They’re smart and talented professionals, dedicated to keeping us all safe.
Most importantly of all, though, learn what you can do to reduce the chance of having your home burglarized. The Chief was clear as to why law enforcement cannot, by itself, prevent home burglaries. For one thing, the bad guys strive to get in and out in just two or three minutes, quicker than the police can show up, even if the house has a burglar alarm.
But by taking a few steps – such as remembering to lock your doors and yard gates, working with your neighbors to report suspicious activity to the police, perhaps tweaking your landscaping to eliminate hiding places and installing an alarm system — you’ll make your home much less of a target. If enough people in San Carlos take steps, our entire community will become less of a target.
I don’t mean to imply there’s nothing more the Council can do. There are additional steps I believe the City should take. I’ve been vetting my ideas with staff, and I look forward to sharing them with my colleagues when we take up the subject in one of our next meetings.
I said earlier that I don’t believe we’ll be able to eliminate all home burglaries. But by keeping our heads, not succumbing to fear, and taking steps both individually and as a community, I’m confident we can make San Carlos even safer than it already is.