OCEANSIDE — Police detectives, crime analysts and undercover investigators shared local crime trends and what residents can do to stay safe at a community meeting held at Jefferson Middle School March 6.
This was the second of four of the Police Department’s community meetings to inform residents about citywide crime statistics and address specific police concerns in the city sector east of Interstate 5 and west of El Camino Real. The remaining two community meetings will look at neighborhoods further to the east.
Citywide crime trends include an increase in vehicle thefts and residential break-ins during the summer months when kids are out of school, and more shoplifting during holidays.
Target areas for property theft are at fitness centers and the parking lots of condominiums.
Tips to avoid being a victim of theft include locking up your home, car and valuables, not allowing salespeople inside your home to case it out, and keeping items stored inside your car to a minimum.
Information on prostitution, human trafficking, sexual offenders and violent crimes was also shared. Most violent crimes in the city are gang related.
Residents were encouraged to report any suspicious activity.
“Information is key,” Detective Josh Morris said. “Things do not change unless people speak up.”
Detectives listed warning signs to alert parents that their kids may be in with the wrong crowd. These include changes in dress, not sharing details on where they are going and signs of drug or alcohol use.
Trauma Intervention Programs (TIP) volunteer Jennifer Tabanico explained how TIP volunteers work with the Police Department to immediately give comfort to people who have been involved in or witnessed a traumatic incident.
“A lot of times a hug is all that a family needs,” Tabanico said.
The meeting allowed for an informal Q-and-A session after each presenter.
Most of those attending said they came to get information. After hearing detectives’ presentations some residents were ready to start community Neighborhood Watch groups, volunteer for TIP, or check out online crime information sites.
“It’s the most valuable hour I’ve spent in a long time,” Philip Goscienski, of Oceanside said. “I was recently burglarized. I’m organizing a Neighborhood Watch group.”
Captain Ray Bechler organized the series of community meetings as a way for the Police Department Investigation Division to connect with residents in each of the four sectors of the city and gather community feedback.
“Investigators work behind the scenes,” Bechler said. “It gets them out from behind their desk and lets them share their experience.”