In talking with recent crime victims, and numerous other citizens and farmers in Cottonwood County this week, it became clear that perhaps some old habits that were common in this area may need to be called into question in a new era where there is now a greater possibility of crime.
“Things have changed,” Cottonwood County Sheriff Jason Purrington said. “It’s not the same environment that we were in even 10 years ago, much less 30 years ago.”
Many farmers or people living on rural properties simply did not have to make security systems a priority in the past. Doors were never locked. Keys were left in vehicles. Anyone could come over and get into the garage.
In conversations with Purrington, Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Haken, Windom Police Chief Scott Peterson and Assistant Police Chief Cory Hillesheim, the men offered advice for both local homeowners and especially for rural residents of Cottonwood County.
Tips for citizens
–Always lock your home, garage or any outbuildings that have that capability.
–Always lock your car or truck, and do not leave valuables visible in the vehicle.
–Never leave your car or truck running at a store, or even out in the field during planting or harvest time.
–Have a place for your keys in the house that is not immediately available for a thief. The countertop or key rack on the wall just inside the door just makes it too easy to find keys.
–Have a second key fob or set of keys hidden for your vehicle. If your car is stolen, this will let you get it going when it is recovered as often thieves throw away or keep the original key or fob.
–Keep your firearms locked in a safe place in a gun safe or with a trigger lock engaged.
–If you are a country person who keeps a varmint gun handy, at least keep it out of immediate sight, and keep the ammunition for it in a separate place. Thieves look for money and valuables, but they also may desire weapons, and if they came to your property unarmed, you do not want to provide a ready weapon to a criminal.
–Take pictures of every firearm you own, and take a picture of the serial number, so that it can be tracked if it is ever stolen, and so you know exactly what is missing.
–Country and town people should look out for their neighbors, especially if they are elderly or alone and even moreso if they are in an isolated rural location. Communicate with your neighbors and that will be your best neighborhood watch device.
–Call law enforcement when things seem off or trouble is brewing. The law enforcement officers encouraged citizens to call in if any suspicious or criminal activity is noticed. The only way they can do their job correctly is if they are alerted of a need for help. Don’t hesitate.
–The purchase and use of camera security systems like Ring or Bling is encouraged. This can give property owners real time information on what is happening at their property, and a record of visitors either sent to a phone or recorded, or both.
–The purchase of wildlife trail cameras is also encouraged, as these can record visitors to a property that is unattended or which is vacant when the occupants are away for work or travel. Some of the cameras have memory cards in the device, and many of them, for a fee, will send the images recorded to a cloud service or your e-mail. Do your own research or talk to hunters who are often literate in these devices.
For more details on this story, please see the Feb. 7 edition of the Citizen.