The PCR [Police Community Relations] Unit of the Oklahoma City Police Department is made up of a group of specially trained officers whose focus is presenting information to neighborhood associations, businesses, churches, and other groups. Presentations can include information on safety, crime prevention, drug abuse, and numerous other topics. PCR officers can also provide you with information concerning how to set up a neighborhood association and neighborhood watch patrol. Each patrol division has a PCR officer. The contact information for each division's PCR officer is listed below. To find the patrol division in which you live or work, click one of the patrol division links below. Maps are provided on each patrol division page.
|MSgt. Charles Epperly||405-316-4416|
|MSgt. Steve Brackeen||405-316-4806|
|Sgt. Erick Huff||405-316-5138|
Carjacking is the violent form of motor vehicle theft. It is a serious threat to our personal safety because the thief steals our car from us by using force and fear. Sometimes the car owner or other occupants are kidnapped during a carjacking, and if lucky will be dropped off nearby unharmed. The worst case scenario occurs if you are transported to a secondary crime scene which is usually more dangerous than the original confrontation. Those not so lucky victims have suffered other crimes like assault, rape, aggravated robbery, and even homicide.
Since the mid-1980s, carjacking has captured the attention of the media with reports of these sudden and violent attacks. Carjackers have unknowingly driven off with infants still in the backseat of the car, leaving behind a screaming and emotionally distressed parent. Other drivers have been violently pulled out of their seats and left lying on the road, terrified by what just occurred.
The crime of carjacking can be traumatic to our everyday lives because it creates fear in the common act of driving a car. Victims of carjacking have reported being unable to drive a car again while others required months of therapy. Others have become so hypersensitive, that embarrassing and dangerous situations have arisen in response to their fear when someone unwittingly approached their car on foot.
How Carjacking Got Started
Carjacking has always been around, especially in large metropolitan cities, we just rarely read about it. The crime of carjacking "took off" in the 1980s after the media published stories of bizarre situations and the violence associated with the crime. The media coined the phrase "carjacking" and the crime of auto theft took on a new identity. After a rush of publicity, other criminals "copied" the crime of carjacking. These copycat criminals must have said, "Hey, I can steal any vehicle I want, without damaging it, and I get the car keys. What a concept!"
Another reason carjacking got started is because of the sophistication and prevalence of new anti-theft devices and alarm systems. New car alarms and steering wheel locking systems made it tougher on the auto thief. Chip-integrated ignition switches, engine cutoff devices, and stolen vehicle locators are now more common in cars. Unfortunately for us, poorly motivated and unskilled car thieves have adapted by becoming more violent to get the cars they need by using force against us.
Sometimes criminals will carjack a vehicle for use in another crimes like armed a retail robbery or for a drive-by shooting. These carjackers prefer to have a set of car keys and not have a visibly smashed window that can be easily spotted by the police. This class of car thief is the most dangerous because they are usually heavily armed and are not concerned with our welfare.
How Often Does Carjacking Occur
National carjacking statistics are not available. However, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)* made an telephone assessment of 221,000 households between 1992-1996 to gain an understanding of the extent of the carjacking problem. The biggest problem of tracking carjacking incidents is current police agency reporting practices. Most criminal codes have not adopted this new crime type nor do they track it statistically. Most police jurisdictions charge the crime of carjacking as a robbery since force or fear was used to steal the vehicle directly for the owner. Many police agencies record multiple charges like aggravated robbery, auto theft, assault, battery to one event but usually only the first charge (robbery) gets indexed and statistically tracked. Some jurisdictions charge the crime of carjacking as only an auto theft since a vehicle was stolen.
Since the crime of carjacking is not indexed in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, it is unlikely that we will soon see a national statistic on frequency that is generated from police reports. What we have to work with is the NCVS telephone survey as the source of our data.
Between 1992-1996 the NCVS learned that each year 49,000 carjackings and attempts occur in the United States. About half of the reported carjackings were failed attempts. Of the completed carjackings, 92% had weapons where only 75% were armed during the failed attempts. Unfortunately, this statistic tells us that carjackers must be armed to be taken seriously by victims. A handgun was the weapon of choice followed by a knife. Males were responsible for 97% of the carjackings and attempts and were usually carried out by either one or two perpetrators.
Where Does Carjacking Occur
Carjacking can occur anywhere but is largely a big city problem like traditional auto theft.
Carjacking occurs most often in an open area when a car is parked and when the owner is entering or exiting the vehicle. Most carjackings or attempts (65%) occur within five miles of the victim's home. The carjacker wants the keys readily available and the car door unlocked for a quick getaway. Carjackers tend to rob lone victims more often (92%), for obvious reasons. According to the NCVS, men were victimized more often than women, blacks more than whites; Hispanics, more than non-Hispanics; and divorced, separated, or never married more than married or widowed. This trend is not surprising given the fact that younger single males tend to take more chances and go to higher risk locations than do married persons. It is unclear whether household income or the value of the vehicle is a criteria in carjacking as the statistics are spread throughout the income levels. However the $35,000 to $50,000 income range had a slightly higher carjack victim frequency.
Surprisingly, the NCVS study indicates that 64% of the daytime carjackings were actually completed, while less than half of those at night were completed. This may be reflective of who is being victimized and who is out at night. About 62% of all carjacking victims took some form of action to defend themselves or their property. Victims were injured about 20% of the time in completed carjackings and about 16% during attempts. Although the statistics aren't clear, each year about 27 homicides are reported related to auto theft. The smart ones didn't resist, escaped, and called for help. Also interesting is that 100% of the completed carjack victims called the police, whereas only 57% called to report an attempt carjacking. This variable in reporting is probably related to the desire to get their property back and for insurance purposes.
Popular carjacking locations are parking lots, shopping centers, gas stations, car washes, convenience stores, ATMs, hotels, valet parking, fast-food drive-thru, and outside of retail stores. Proximity to a freeway onramp is a desirable location from the carjackers prospective. A more risking location for the carjacker is a roadway intersection with a stoplight. A carjacker will jump out of another vehicle, pull open your unlocked drivers’ door, and force you to get out. The location of this type of carjacking allows for a quick escape but increases their risk of being followed by other drivers armed with cell phones. There have been incidents where well-meaning citizens got into a high-speed chase following carjackers and ended up being victims themselves.
The "Bump" and Carjack
Another copycat scheme used by carjackers is to bump your car from behind to get you to pull over and stop. We have all been trained to always stop following an auto accident and exchange license and insurance information. What a perfect scenario for a carjacker!
The carjacker, and his accomplice, will follow the intended victim to a suitable location with good escape routes and few witnesses. The carjacker will crash into the back of your vehicle at low speed and "bump" you with enough force to make you believe a traffic accident had just occurred. Typically, the drivers of both vehicles pull over, stop, and get out to discuss the damage. At this point the carjacker robs you of your vehicle, and its’ contents and drives away. The carjacker's car gets driven away by the accomplice. Hopefully you won't be injured during the exchange.
What Should You Do?
Carjacking of parked vehicles depends on the car owner being inattentive to their surroundings. Carjackers, like street robbers, prefer the element of surprise. Most victims say they never saw the carjacker until they appeared at their car door. To reduce your risk of being carjacked, I have listed some common sense steps below:
|bystanders can come to your aid and call the police|
*National Crime Victimization Survey Bureau
of Justice Statistics (BJS) - 1999
Your home is your castle...or is it? Are you really safe once your get home and lock your door? In an open society your home should be the sanctuary for you and your family. Your home is the only environment where you have control over who can get close to you or your family. Protecting your home and family from criminal intrusion should be high on your list of priorities.
By far, the most common threat to our home is burglary. Burglary, by definition, is a non-confrontational crime but being victimized can leave a family feeling vulnerable and violated. To prevent a burglary, it is important to first gain an understanding of who commits them and why. The majority of home and apartment burglaries occur during the daytime when most people are away at work or at school. Burglaries also occur at night when there are obvious signs that no one is home. Most home burglars are young males looking for things that are small, expensive, and can easily be converted to cash. Items like cash, jewelry, guns, watches, laptop computers, and other small electronic devices are high on the list. Quick cash is needed for living expenses and drugs. Statistics tell us that more than 30% of all home burglars gained access through an open door or window. Ordinary household tools like screwdrivers, channel-lock pliers, small pry bars, and small hammers are most often used by burglars. Although home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, they actually involve a selection process.
The burglar's selection process is simple. Choose an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes. What follows is a list of suggestions to minimize your risk by making your home unattractive to potential burglars.
Doors and Locks
The first step is to "harden the target" or make your home more difficult to enter. Remember the burglar will simply bypass your home if it requires too much effort or requires more skill and tools than they possess. Most burglars enter via the front, back, or garage doors. Experienced burglars know that the garage door is usually the weakest followed by the back door. The garage and back doors also provide the most cover. Burglars know to look inside your car for keys and other valuables so keep it locked, even inside your garage. Use high quality Grade-1 or Grade-2 locks on exterior doors to resist twisting, prying, and lock-picking attempts. A quality deadbolt lock will have a beveled casing to inhibit the use of channel-lock pliers used for forced entry. A quality door knob-in-lock set will have a 'dead latch' mechanism to prevent slipping the lock with a shim or credit card.
|wooden door frame|
The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden frame is to kick it open. The weakest point is almost always the strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place. The average door strike plate is secured with only one-half inch screws set into the door frame molding. These lightweight moldings are often tacked on to the door frame and can be torn away with a firm kick. Because of this construction flaw, it makes sense to upgrade to a four-screw, heavy-duty, high security strike plate. They are available in most quality hardware stores and home improvement centers and are definitely worth the extra expense. Install this strike plate using 3-inch screws to cut deep into the door frame stud. This one step alone will deter or prevent most through-the-door forced entries. You and your family will sleep safer in the future.
Sliding Glass Doors
Sliding glass doors are usually installed at the rear of a home or apartment making them good candidates for entry by a burglar. In warm climates, an experienced burglar knows that sliding glass doors are often left standing open for ventilation or for pet access. Since they slide horizontally, it is important to have a blocking device in place to prevent sliding the door fully open from the outside. This can be easily accomplished by inserting a wooden dowel or stick into the track thus preventing or limiting movement. Other blocking devices available are metal fold-down blocking devices called "charley bars" and various track-blockers that can be screwed down.
Sliding glass doors are notorious for failing to prevent a forced entry attempt especially in apartment buildings. This is because of the wear and tear they receive and due to the inadequate nature of many of the latching mechanisms. Sliding glass doors usually do not have locks on them, only latches. The latches are often made of aluminum and can become worn or out of adjustment. The most common methods used to force entry, aside from breaking the glass, is by prying the door near the latch or lifting the door off the track. The blocking devices described above solve half the equation. To prevent lifting, you need to keep the door rollers in good condition and properly adjusted. You can also install anti-lift devices such as a pin that extends through both the sliding and fixed portion of the door. There are also numerous locking and blocking devices available in any good quality hardware store that will prevent a sliding door from being lifted or forced horizontally. Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification is in place. Burglars dislike alarm systems and definitely dogs.
Windows are left unlocked and open at a much higher rate than doors. An open window, visible from the street or alley, may be the sole reason for your home to be selected by a burglar. Ground floor windows are more susceptible to break-ins for obvious reasons. Upper floor windows become attractive if they can be accessed from a stairway, tree, fence, or by climbing on balconies. Windows have latches, not locks, therefore should have secondary blocking devices to prevent sliding them open from the outside. Inexpensive wooden dowels and sticks work well for horizontal sliding windows and through-the-frame pins work well for vertical sliding windows. For ventilation, block the window open no more than six inches and make sure you can't reach in from the outside and remove the blocking device. These window blocking devices should be capable of being removed easily from the inside to comply with fire codes. Like sliding glass doors, anti-lift devices are necessary for ground level and accessible aluminum windows that slide horizontally. The least expensive and easiest method is to install screws half-way into the upper track of the movable glass panel to prevent it from being lifted out in the closed position. Place highly visible decals on the glass door near the latch mechanism that indicates that an alarm system, a dog, or block watch/operation identification system is in place.
Be a Good Neighbor
Good neighbors should look out for each other. Get to know your neighbors on each side of your home and the three directly across the street. Invite them into your home, communicate often, and establish trust. Good neighbors will watch out for your home or apartment when you are away, if you ask them. They can report suspicious activity to the police or to you while you are away. Between them, good neighbors can see to it that normal services continue in your absence by allowing vendors to mow your lawn or remove snow. Good neighbors can pick up your mail, newspapers, handbills, and can inspect the outside or inside of your home periodically to see that all is well. Good neighbors will occasionally park in your driveway to give the appearance of occupancy while you are on vacation. Allowing a neighbor to have a key solves the problem of hiding a key outside the door. Experienced burglars know to look for hidden keys in planter boxes, under doormats, above the ledge. Requiring a service vendor to see your neighbor to retrieve and return your house key will send the message that someone is watching. This neighborhood watch technique sets up what is called 'territoriality' which means that your neighbors will take ownership and responsibility for what occurs in your mini-neighborhood. This concept works in both single family homes communities and on apartment properties. This practice helps deter burglaries and other crimes in a big way. Of course for this to work, you must reciprocate and offer the same services.
Interior lighting is necessary to show signs of life and activity inside a residence. A darken home night after night sends the message to burglars that you are away on a trip. Light timers are inexpensive and can be found everywhere. They should be used on a daily basis, not just when your away. In this way you set up a routine that your neighbors can observe and will allow them to become suspicious when your normally lighted home becomes dark. Typically, you want to use light timers near the front and back windows with the curtains drawn. The pattern of them clicking on and off simulates actual occupancy. It is also comforting not to have to enter a dark residence. The same light timers can be used to turn on radios or television sets to further enhance the illusion of occupancy.
Exterior lighting is also very important. It becomes critical if you must park in a common area parking lot or underground garage and need to walk to your front door. The purpose of good lighting is to allow you to see if a threat or suspicious person is lurking in your path. If you can see a potential threat in advance then you at least have the choice and chance to avoid it. Exterior lighting needs to bright enough for you to see 100 feet and it helps if you can identify colors. Good lighting is definitely a deterrent to criminals because they don't want to be seen or identified.
Another important area to be well-lit is the perimeter of your home or apartment especially at the entryway. Exterior lighting on the front of a property should always be on a timer to establish a routine and appearance of occupancy at all times. Common area lighting on apartment properties should also be on a timer or photo-cell to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn. Garage or porch lights left on all day on a single family home is a dead giveaway that you are out of town. Exterior lighting at the rear of a home or apartment are usually on a switch because of the proximity to the sleeping rooms. The resident can choose to leave these lights on or off. Security lights with infra-red motion sensors are relatively inexpensive and can easily replace an exterior porch light or side door light on single family homes. The heat-motion sensor can be adjusted to detect body heat and can be programmed to reset after one minute. These security lights are highly recommended for single family homes.
Alarm systems definitely have a place in a home security plan and are effective, if used properly. The reason why alarms systems deter burglaries is because they increase the potential and fear of being caught and arrested by the police. The deterrent value comes from the alarm company lawn sign and from the alarm decals on the windows. Home and apartment burglars will usually bypass a property with visible alarm signs and will go to another property without such a sign. Some people, with alarm systems, feel that these signs and decals are unsightly and will not display them. The risk here is that an uninformed burglar might break a window or door and grab a few quick items before the police can respond. Also, don't write your alarm passcode on or near the alarm keypad.
Alarm systems need to be properly installed and maintained. Alarms systems can monitor for fire as well as burglary for the same price. All systems should have an audible horn or bell to be effective in case someone does break in. However, these audible alarms should be programmed to reset automatically after one or two minutes. The criminal got the message and will be long gone but your neighbors will have to listen to the alarm bell, sometimes for hours, until it is shut off. If you use a central station to monitor your alarm, make sure your response call list is up to date. Home alarms, like car alarms, are generally ignored except for a brief glance. However, if you have established and nurtured your neighborhood watch buddy system, you will experience a genuine concern by your neighbor. It is not unusual to have a neighbor wait for the police, allow them inside for an inspection, and secure the residence. A good neighbor can also call the glass company or locksmith to repair any damage, if pre-authorized by you.
The biggest difficulty getting to this level of concern is taking the first step. You can take it by calling your local crime prevention unit at the police department. Most police departments in large cities have neighborhood watch coordinators to help you set this up. You should invite your adjacent neighbors over to your home for coffee and begin the information exchange. You'll be amazed how the process runs on automatic from there.
This is a program supported by most police agencies. They recommend that you engrave your drivers license number or social security number on televisions, stereos, computers, and small electronic appliances. They suggest this so they can identify and locate you if your stolen items are recovered.
It is also recommended that you photograph your valuables and make a list of the make, model, and serial numbers. You should keep this list in a safety deposit box or with a relative for safe keeping. Beyond that, photocopy important documents and the contents of your wallet. You will be thankful that you took these steps in case your home is ever destroyed by fire or flood, is burglarized or if your wallet is lost or stolen.
Purpose of the Terrorism Awareness and Prevention Program
|1) Encourage citizens to learn how to enhance/increase their own security|
|2) Build a stronger partnership between the OKC Police and the community|
|3) Photocopy the contents of your wallet and other documents|
|4) Through education, avoid abuses caused by prejudice and ignorance.|
Reporting Suspicious Acts and People - Contacts
Presentations from officers in this program cover domestic/international terrorism (topics listed below) and describes their short and long-term goals. Most important, you will learn ways to prevent terrorism, what to look for, and who to call to report it.
|MSgt. Charles Epperly||405-316-4416|
|MSgt. Steve Brackeen||405-316-4806|
|Sgt. Erick Huff||405-316-5138|
|* Belonging to a group is not illegal. Criminal action is illegal.|
|* Islamic extremism is not representative of Islamic faith.|
Community Protective Measures
Certain activities can reveal terrorist planning for a terrorist act. Such as: