Police Step Up Patrols as Families Leave Home for Holiday

With many families packing up the car and heading out of town for the long weekend, Dallas police are stepping up their patrols to make sure homeowners don't become victims.

Police in Northwest Dallas are seeing a lot of residents asking for extra patrols this holiday weekend.

"We're happy to do it," said Maj. Jimmy Vaughan. "I'd say about 10 residents have filled out extra patrol sheets so far asking for an officer to swing by their block since they'll be gone so long."

The neighborhoods near Oak Lawn and Cedar Springs are full of tony, two-bedroom houses and sprawling, brand-new apartment complexes and condo complexes.

There have been about 12 violent late-night attacks near the popular nightlife district since September, and residents are still on edge about crooks and thieves on the prowl for things to steal.

In addition to honoring the extra patrol sheet requests – residents must contact their local police sub-station to set one up – police supervisors are also re-focusing their patrols to accommodate holiday shopping traffic.

"We've been shooting out e-mail blasts to community crime watches: what to do, what not to do in regards to holiday tips," Vaughan said. "And we've beefed up patrols particularly around the neighborhoods near shopping centers."

Police this week made an arrest on Maple Springs Boulevard when a man was hiding in the bushes, looking for something to steal. Alert neighbors saw what was going on.

"[My neighbor] saw a prowler, a suspicious person, just lurking around," said homeowner Julie Shaddox. "The guy was snooping around the bushes in front of a house and my neighbor chased the guy and called police."

"He jumped a fence into another neighbor's backyard and that's where police found him," Shaddox continued. "They arrested him, and we're really grateful for the police response."

Shaddox said one of the arresting officers told the group a piece of advice she's remembering this holiday season.

"The officer spoke to us about how with prowlers active at night it's important to not leave packages outside," she said. "And I now definitely can see how it really sends a signal, that there are things worth stealing."

Police said make sure a friend or trusted neighbor knows to get your mail for you and your packages if you're going away – don't assume they know they're supposed to do it.

"We have alarms, and pets and good neighbors," said homeowner Lisa Laughlin, who lives off Cedar Springs near Love Field.

"The neighbors know each other and we make a habit to say hello. A lot of us socialize or sometimes go to church together," she said.

And, for those residents about to head out of town who are expecting a package but didn't take any other precaution, Vaughan offers up this advice.

"That last-second, valuable advice is you can leave special instructions for the deliveryman on the front door, a note to the effect of, 'Please leave it by the side-door,' or perhaps behind a gate, and ask the deliveryman to take the paper off with him so it’s gone that day," Vaughan said.

A lot of families pile into one car to head out-of-town and leave a second vehicle in the driveway or on the street. Police said don't leave valuables in the backseat covered up with a coat or a blanket.

"That just told the thief that whatever is underneath the jacket or blanket is something worth stealing. It's something valuable, or else you wouldn't try to hide it with a jacket," Vaughan said. "We see a lot of break-ins happen that way this time of year."

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