The rash of home burglaries and invasions in Keizer is a sad sign of our times. Bold, desperate criminals are even robbing homes that are obviously occupied.

Some Keizer residents have come home to discover burglars in the middle of their dastardly crimes.  We can take some solace that none of the crimes thus far have resulted in violence or bodily harm. That is a real fear.

It would be a bad result if we started turning our homes into fortresses to protect ourselves and our worldy belongings.

Citizens can turn to the police and ask why they don’t stop our mini-crime wave.  Unfortunately, even a fully-staffed police department can’t be everywhere and stop burglaries before they happen.  We, as residents of Keizer, must look out for our own neighborhoods and communities.

The Neighborhood Watch program has existed for years.  That’s the program in which neighbors get to know each other and keep each other informed when they will be away.  If you know some one across the street is on vacation you would be able to notice if there is suspicious activity in a house that is supposed to be vacant.

A suspicious activity call to the police will be be responded to.  The unknown person may only be watering plants or feeding animals; there may be some initial embarrassment but it is better to be safe than sorry.  When neighbors inform each other of their plans including the fact that a person will be in the home for housesitting duties can preclude any embarrassment. Even an anonymous 9-1-1 call is far better than letting a neighbor’s  house get ransacked and robbed.

Locked doors won’t deter  a determined burglar who knows a house has something good to steal. Deterents can include motion sensor lights, pruning shrubs to deny a burglar a place to hide from view or even a home security system.

Another deterrent could be the frequent cruising of neighborhoods by police cars.  Until a sustainable funding source is found to bring the Keizer Police Department to full strength that would allow more regular patrols in all areas of the city, we all  have to be vigilant.  And we must all know who are neighbors are.

Each August National Night Out block parties are held throughout the city.  Too many neighborhoods don’t hold these events that can connect residents with each other.  These block parties reveal how important it is to know where we live and who we live with.  We don’t feel like nosy neighbors when we are looking after someone’s house when they are away at work or vacation.

The recent Keizer home burglaries are a result of current economic conditions and it is predictable that crime rises when the economy falls.  We can rely on the police department to respond, but we all must take the responsibility of looking after ourselves, too.

—LAZ