JOHN DAY - It's safe to assume that most people don't imagine themselves on the wrong side of jailhouse bars. When it comes to theft, a few bad apples try to get away with it and end up there.

By following some tips from John Day Police Chief Richard Tirico and Oregon State Police Sgt. Gordon Larson you can help thwart the plans of would-be thieves and protect your home and belongings.

"Secure property and remove all temptation," Tirico said. "Lighting is the key."

He recommended motion-sensor lights because when they come on burglars may think someone has turned the light on from inside.

Doors should be locked and sliding windows and doors secured with wooden rods, he said. Also, make sure valuables are out of sight, perehaps in a small vault. A fireproof box could be used for important papers. These should be locked and bolted to the floor or well hidden.

"When you leave, keep neighbors informed of who should and shouldn't be there," Tirico said.

Locals planning trips out of town can sign up for a John Day house watch at the police station. City police will make routine patrols of the home.

Incidents of unlawful entries into vehicles increase during the warmer months, Tirico said.

Keeping keys in the ignition and valuables in sight and available creates a target or opportunity, Tirico said.

Park in a well-lit area and in your personal driveway. Keep your keys in your pocket and vehicle doors locked.

Also, locking gas caps are a good idea, he said,-because when gas prices go up, gas thefts go up.

"The harder you make it for them to break in, the better off you are," he said.

Larson's main advice for home safety is "Be neighborly." Maintain some kind of communication with your neighbors.

Things to think about on a daily basis are keeping the home well lit and doors locked. Use security deadbolts.

"Mark things in an obvious place with your Oregon driver's license number," Larson said. "Use digital cameras or camcorders to visually record your belongings and update it occasionally when things of value are added."

It's also helpful to record the serial numbers of belongings, such as firearms, and keep the list hidden separately.

In the event that you find your home has been broken into, don't confront the thief, Larson said, but make observations, leave and contact law enforcement.

"Property crimes are an intimate invasion of a person's privacy," Larson said, "and we will investigate or aid other agencies' investigations and exhaust all avenues to catch people responsible for those crimes."

There's always room in the Grant County Jail for these types of people, he said.

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